Council Supports Keeping ICE Out of Courts

POUGHKEEPSIE – The presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in and around state courts increased about 17-fold, in just one year, according to a report released earlier this year by the Immigrant Defense Project.

The Protect Our Courts Act (POCA), introduced in the state legislature, would require that ICE officers obtain a warrant from a federal judge before attempting to arrest an undocumented immigrant either inside or on the way to a state courthouse.

The Poughkeepsie Common Council is on record supporting it.

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson Executive Director Jonathan Bix told the council Monday night there is good reason for immigrants in particular to fear courts.

“Peoples’ fear of showing up to court is something that hurts the courts themselves, which is why many prosecutors have come out in support of this act,” Bix said. “It hurts all of us and is something we’ll all benefit from.”

Councilmember Sarah Salem is an enthusiastic supporter of POCA.

“The Protect Our Court Act will insure that every immigrant New Yorker and all New Yorkers have access to the courts without fear of being arrested or fear of undue process,” Salem said.

The council voted 8-0 with Randall Johnson absent, to adopt a memorializing resolution urging the state legislature to pass POCA.

Just a couple of weeks ago, ICE agents attempted to take an undocumented Middletown man into custody at Middletown City Court. He escaped after fighting with the agents.

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