February 14, 2018 |
Three of New York City's five district attorneys joined calls Wednesday for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to stop arresting immigrants at local courthouses, arguing the practice threatens the city's justice system.
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr., Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez and Bronx DA Darcel Clark joined the recent push by public defenders and activists to protect immigrants who make legally mandated court appearances.
ICE arrested or tried to arrest 78 people at New York City's state-run courthouses from January to November 2017, a 600 percent spike from just 11 appearances in all of 2016, according to the Immigrant Defense Project. Aboubacar Dembele, a 27-year-old brought to the U.S. from the Ivory Coast as a child, was arrested just last Thursday outside the Bronx Criminal Court.
The arrests make immigrants afraid to come to court, whether they're defending themselves or appearing as witnesses, and threaten to disrupt the functioning of the city's court system, the Democratic prosecutors said.
"The ongoing enforcement actions ICE is conducting in courthouses jeopardize public safety by forcing immigrants into the shadows, disrupt court proceedings and deprive defendants of their due process and victims of their day in court," Gonzalez said in a statement.