On Thursday, after Documented reported that ICE agents had appeared at a courthouse one day after a new rule was created to limit their access, a group of lawmakers and dozens of advocates gathered to call for legislative action.
ICE agents entered the Pelham, New York courthouse last week to attempt to arrest Carlos Duque who was appearing for his criminal case. He had been arrested for driving without a license earlier this month.
The agents appearance came one day after the Office of Court Administration had issued a new directive that would require ICE agents to have a judicial warrant to make arrests at courthouses. The Pelham’s court was not subject to the directive as it was a Town and Village court, not part of the Unified Court System.
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At the press conference, State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D) called on the New York state legislature to pass the Green Light Act, which would provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, and the Protect Our Courts Act, which would go further than the OCA’s directive by making it unlawful for ICE to carry out arrests without a judicial warrant in all New York State courts and empower the attorney general to pursue legal action against ICE agents who violate the law.
Yesterday, Biaggi announced that the Pelham court would begin honoring the new rule. Still, she told Documented that Town and Village courts not having to honor the rule is a “glaring loophole that we will have to close.” She called for Westchester residents to rally and get other Town and Village courts in the county to follow the rule.
U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D) also spoke outside the court, saying “as far as I’m concerned, ICE is out of control.” He added that the driver’s license program could also avoid arrests like Duque’s.
Last week, after Duque and his lawyer realized ICE agents were present in the courthouse, he requested another week in jail to consider his situation and perhaps get more time with his wife before his likely detention.
Duque had been previously removed from the country, which he said came up when the arresting officer did a background check. He was brought to the Westchester County Jail, where ICE lodged a detainer request and asked the jail to hold him for an extra 48 hours after his case was adjudicated.
Duque was scheduled to appear in criminal court again on Thursday, but the judge adjourned his case to mid-May for unclear reasons.
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