State AG, Brooklyn DA want ICE to stop courthouse arrests
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has joined acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to ask U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop raids and arrests in New York courthouses.
Arrests by ICE agents within courts have gone up nearly fivefold since last year, according to the Kings County District Attorney's Office.
Schneiderman is asking ICE to treat courthouses as sensitive locations, similar to houses of worship and schools. He says all residents should have access to equal justice, adding that 23 percent of the state's population was born in another country.
Schneiderman and Gonzalez believe the arrests could discourage people from pursuing justice.
"Fear of deportation stops witnesses from coming forward, stops victims from coming forward and participating and supporting our legal process," Schneiderman says.
"No matter how hard you try to do the right thing, no matter how brave you are in coming forward to help the district attorney's office...you will still be held in detention and be subject to deportation," says Gonzalez.
An ICE spokesperson tells News 12: "Courthouse visitors are typically screened upon entry to search for weapons and other contraband, the safety risks for the arresting officers and for the arrestee inside such a facility are substantially diminished. As such, ICE plans to continue arresting individuals in courthouse environments as necessary, based on operational circumstances."
Both Schneiderman and Gonzalez say they will continue opposing policies that interfere with the legal system and provide as much protection for undocumented immigrants as possible.