ICE pushback from Cuomo to include suit, executive order over ‘reckless arrests’

Gov. Cuomo is taking on ICE, including, he said on Wednesday, a planned lawsuit.
Gov. Cuomo is taking on ICE, including, he said on Wednesday, a planned lawsuit. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Francois Nel

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ready to sue Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, over what he deems unconstitutional raids.

The governor announced on Wednesday plans to issue a cease and desist letter to the federal agency to put a stop to recent “reckless arrests,” which have totaled more than 300 in the last month. Cuomo will also issue an executive order to prohibit ICE arrests within state facilities, such as courthouses, after ICE detained an undocumented man inside a Staten Island Supreme Courthouse Tuesday.

“In recent weeks, we’ve seen an increase and a harshness in their behavior,” Cuomo said at the Manhattan news conference. “We believe ICE is violating the law and endangering public safety.”

In a joint statement, the Legal Aid Society and Association of Legal Aid Attorneys applauded Cuomo’s announcement. “ICE’s presence in our courts undermines our ability to represent our clients and safeguard their Constitutional rights. Immigrant defendants and witnesses are terrified to appear in court, knowing that ICE is indiscriminately targeting anyone who is not a US citizen.”

Joining Cuomo on Wednesday was John Collins, an upstate dairy farmer whose business was raided last week. Collins said armed officers came onto the farm unannounced and, without a warrant, forcefully arrested employee Marcial de Leon Aguilar in front of his children, then threw his phone away when he tried to record the encounter.

“Officers showed no respect for me, my employees, or the rule of law,” Collins said. “We cannot allow these illegal raids to continue.”

Alina Das, co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the NYU School of Law, said those who criticize ICE fall into the most danger. Das also represents Ravi Ragbir, who made news recently when ICE detained him at a routine check-in.

“One of the many constitutional violations that we are increasingly seeing from the Trump administration is the targeting of people who speak out,” she said. “The only threat that they pose by speaking out is to threaten Trump’s deportation machine.”

Cuomo believes that ICE is acting on President Trump’s “hot rhetoric.”

“I believe what is happening is this is about politics,” Cuomo said. “New York is the antithesis of what this president believes about immigration. ”