Since the Trump administration expanded the Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency’s priorities to detain and deport non-citizens in February 2018, agents have sought new techniques to detain individuals who have been ordered to be removed from the country. For the last year, ICE agents have been appearing at New York courts to make arrests. On April 6, 2018, it was reported that a non-citizen was detained by ICE agents at a criminal courthouse, spurring protests from immigration attorneys.
According to the New York Daily News, a 38-year-old, Panamanian non-citizen, Diogenes Pinzon, was detained by ICE agents just moments after he walked out of the eighth-floor courtroom in the Kings County Criminal Court in Brooklyn. Following the arrest, Legal Aid and Brooklyn Defender Service lawyers began protesting outside the courthouse.
Similar demonstrations were held in February 2018 when ICE agents detained Rayon Smith, a non-citizen from Jamaica, who was arrested just moments after his case was dismissed, according to amNewYork.com. He had been charged with misdemeanor assault following a fight in February, in which both parties were arrested. Mr. Smith had no previous criminal record, according to amNewYork.com. On April 9, the publication later reported that Mr. Smith was released out of ICE custody until his next court date and issued a notice to appear before an immigration judge, according to ICE spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow.
ICE officials appearing at New York courts is not a new occurrence. Last year, ICE agents had started to show up at the city’s courthouses to detain non-citizens. The Immigrant Defense Projects reports that this year, at least 25 ICE arrests at New York City courthouses, both inside and outside, as well as three attempted arrests, as cited in the New York Daily News.
As the frequency of ICE arrests at New York City courts continues to increase, it is important that non-citizens seek legal assistance from an experienced New York immigration lawyer. An immigration lawyer can advise you on what your best options are if you or your loved one is to appear in court. It’s also important to note, that ICE agents are visiting courthouses to detain individuals who are there for various matters, from family law cases to criminal hearings.
As mentioned in a previous blog, in February 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly issued a memo announcing that although the agency will continue to prioritize deportations based on serious criminal offenders and those who are deemed to a threat national security, it will do so while also deporting non-citizens who do not fall into those categories. Those who commit low-level crimes, including those with legal residency papers, may be prioritized for detainment and deportation. Individuals who are fearful of being deported should always avoid any criminal activity that could place them in front of the criminal courts. Although New York has made efforts to protect non-citizens with prior criminal offenses, ICE is attempting to find paths around New York’s protections.
With immigration policies transforming rapidly under the Trump administration, it is now more important than ever for non-citizens to know their legal rights and available pathways to legal residence or citizenship. If you are concerned about the legal status of yourself or your loved ones and are seeking guidance on your immigration matter, contact the experienced New York immigration lawyers at Bretz & Coven, LLP. With two immigration law offices located in New York, New York, and Clark, New Jersey, the firm’s attorneys are available to provide non-citizens in the tri-state area the legal representation they need. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call our New York immigration lawyers at (212) 267-2555 or fill out our contact form.