Due to the raft of new laws that often prevent city police departments across the United States being able to cooperate with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agency officials are taking unusual steps to ensure that they maintain their daily quota of 34,000 undocumented immigrant deportations.
ICE agents are now routinely targeting courts to pick up undocumented immigrants who are there facing criminal charges, with immigrant advocates and defense lawyers alike saying that incidents of arrests made at the courts by ICE agents are on the increase. “ICE is trying to create an environment where it becomes incredibly difficult for cities to pass laws that lower their levels of cooperation with them,” says the Immigrant Defense Project’s deputy director, Mizue Aizeki. “What they’re saying is, ‘Well, you didn’t want us to take them from the police or the jails, so we’re going to take them from their home, or the courthouse’.”
New York City and various other municipalities passed laws last year that often prevent cooperation between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration advocates say this has led to ICE switching its tactics to the courts, where it frequently targets those who have committed minor offences or whose deportable offenses were committed decades ago.
Sarah Vendzules from Brooklyn Defender Services says that in many cases those targeted committed their crimes up to 30 years ago and have now been fully rehabilitated, are in full-time work and often have families. These factors, she says, are completely ignored by ICE.