New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to stop arresting illegal immigrants in the city’s courtrooms.
According to WCBS-TV, ICE agents have increased arrests and attempted arrests in New York City courtrooms by 900 percent over the past year, and New York City officials, including de Blasio and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, are not happy.
They claim that the ICE policy will make both victims and witnesses in criminal cases less likely to show up in court, which will make criminal cases harder to pursue.
Immigration activists have been petitioning the city’s Office of Court Administration to restrict ICE access to courtrooms since President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Thus far, the OCA has taken no action other than to state that they are “closely monitoring the appearance of ICE agents in our court facilities.”
When ICE first announced the program in March 2017, de Blasio declined to comment on the program other than to say that he believed that only the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which is in charge of courthouse property in the city, could determine whether ICE agents would be allowed in New York City courtrooms.
Prior to that, at the direction of de Blasio and his predecessors, New York City had issued guidance documents at least theoretically prohibiting ICE agents from making immigration-related arrests on school grounds or in detention centers.
Over the next few months, de Blasio’s rhetoric toward the program hardened, and he mused aloud in a December 2017 interview about the possibility of barring ICE agents from entering New York City courtrooms.
However, most legal experts agree that any attempt to actually bar federal immigration agents from enforcing federal law in courthouses — or, for that matter, from schools, detention centers, or anywhere else — would face an uncertain legal future in court due to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.