ICE continues its practice in New York of detaining immigrants when they make scheduled court appearances. In the latest case, ICE agents were spotted waiting near a special court intended to help human trafficking victims; the agents were planning to detain a young Chinese woman charged with working without authorization as a masseuse. ICE claims the agents are just trying to help protect the public. “Tell me,” Lauren Evans writes at Jezebel, “which strikes you as a greater threat to public safety? A young woman potentially working as a masseuse, or ICE agents so drunk on power they arrested a 19-year-old on the day of his high school prom?”—TPOI editor.
Outcry After Immigration Agents Seen at Queens Human Trafficking Court
By Beth Fertig, WNYC News
June 16, 2017
Public defenders and the state's top judge were rattled Friday after federal immigration agents were present in a Queens criminal courtroom for human trafficking victims.
A WNYC reporter was in the building when Legal Aid lawyers huddled frantically in the hallway: Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had been spotted in the building. The lawyers approached one of the agents, and he acknowledged there were warrants for several people in the building.
The lawyers said they learned from the judge that ICE wanted a young Chinese woman in the Human Trafficking Intervention Courtroom. They said she'd been charged with working illegally as a masseuse, and was about to receive an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal after completing a program with a community group — a goal of human trafficking court.[...]
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The Immigrant Defense Project has provided the following summary of ICE courtroom practices in New York as of June 2017:
- ICE is targeting multiple people in court in multiple court parts. When they face delays, or are unable to apprehend a person in one part, they are going to other court parts to pursue people.
- ICE is targeting visa overstays with no prior criminal history who are facing a wide range of charges including misdemeanors.
- The physical arrests seem to be occurring farther from the courtroom; some have been in the hallways, by the elevators, and just outside of the courthouse. ICE may be sitting in court parts and identifying people when they're called and then following them out of the courtroom.
- Court officers continue to play a role in assisting in some cases. We have reports of court officers blocking doors, delaying the calling of cases, and communicating with ICE agents.