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New York officials sue ICE for enforcing immigration law

The state doesn't want them to do their jobs

John Moore/Getty Images

New York officials are suing the Trump administration for making immigration arrests in and around the state's courthouses, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, the lawsuit calls Immigration and Customs Enforcement's arrest policy "unlawful and unconstitutional" and says it "disrupts the effective functioning of our courts, deters victims and witnesses from assisting law enforcement and vindicating their rights, hinders criminal prosecution, and undermines public safety."

At a Wednesday news conference about the lawsuit, James said, "ICE's enforcement actions undermine the effectiveness of the court system." James' office also said that New York state has seen a 1,700 percent increase in immigration arrests in and around New York courthouses under President Donald Trump, according to Politico.

The complaint cites a January 2018 ICE decision to reverse its previous policy on conducting immigration arrests at courthouses and adds that "the common law has for centuries recognized a privilege against civil arrests in or around courthouses and court-related proceedings." James and Gonzalez have asked the federal courts for an injunction against the 2018 policy change.

"Nothing in federal law, including in the Immigration and Nationality Act ('INA'), purports to abrogate this common-law privilege," the plaintiffs argue. "And until recently, federal immigration authorities followed a longstanding practice of avoiding civil immigration arrests in and around state courthouses, in recognition of the severe disruption that such arrests would have on court proceedings and the resulting interference with the administration of justice by the States."

In a statement to the New York Post, ICE spokesperson Rachel Yong Yow said that the agency's "enforcement activities at courthouses are consistent with longstanding law enforcement practices nationwide" and such arrests "are often necessitated by the unwillingness of jurisdictions to cooperate with ICE in the transfer of custody of aliens from their prisons and jails."

In 2018, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on ICE to stop conducting immigration arrests in the city's courtrooms. Back in April, the New York State Office of Court Administration issued a new set of rules to hinder ICE's ability to conduct immigration arrests at courthouses.

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