New York judge blocks ICE from arresting immigrants when they show up for court hearings

A New York judge is halting ICE’s longtime practice of arresting immigrants when they show up for court hearings.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been known to show up to courts and arrest undocumented immigrants when they’re tapped as witnesses for lawsuits or are showing up for their own immigration hearings. But after a challenge to the practice from New York state, U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff declared the practice of courthouse arrests illegal on Wednesday.

Both in New York and nationwide, ICE agents reportedly use court hearings as a way to target undocumented immigrants and arrest them while they’re out of their homes without a warrant. Immigration experts say the potential for an arrest has had a “chilling effect” on whether immigrants show up for lawsuits or hearings, jeopardizing other court cases in the process. A directive from the New York court system banned the arrests without a signed judicial warrant, but because some immigrants did not know their rights, advocates say the arrests have continued.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez sued ICE to stop the arrests in September. Rakoff ruled Wednesday that the arrests were illegal, whether they pertain to immigrants or “anyone required to travel to a New York state courthouse as a party or witness to a lawsuit.”


*story by The Week