April 26, 2018 12:10 AM
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) struck back Wednesday after intense criticism from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his threats to sue the agency over its raids in the state to catch people in the country illegally.
In a statement, ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan accused Cuomo of “grandstanding” on the immigration issue and called Cuomo’s comments “inaccurate and an insult to ICE's sworn law enforcement officers who conduct their lawful mission professionally and with integrity.”
In a letter to Homan, Cuomo called recent ICE raids and arrests “reckless” and “irresponsible” as well as unconstitutional and accused the agency of “a readiness to sink to lawlessness.” He particularly cited a recent raid on a Rome dairy farm as well as another on Staten Island, both of which picked up people in the country illegally who also had criminal records.
In his letter Cuomo demanded ICE “cease and desist in this pattern of conduct immediately.”
“We are going to put them on notice today,” Cuomo warned in a press conference surrounded by activists and accompanied by the owner of the Rome farm. “If they continue, the state will sue them. Period.”
Cuomo also announced he would sign an executive order blocking ICE agents from arresting people at state buildings without warrants.
“They’re terrified. I mean the folks we work with. They’re very scared,” declared Grania Marcus of the Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice.
She welcomed Cuomo’s new stand. Advocates complained that concerns persisted about whether the state’s courthouses could still become places where ICE agents could pick up anyone in the country illegally who were in court for business unrelated to immigration.
“These are courts that are state courts, criminal courts. And ICE using them as a venue,’ said Marcus. “It’s almost like fishing.”
The Department of Homeland Security likewise criticized Cuomo. In a statement, Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said “Governor Cuomo’s disregard for the rule of law is a slap in the face to the hardworking men and women of ICE.”
As for the raid on the farm, Homan pointed out that the man taken into custody, “Marcial DeLeon-Aguilar, also a criminal alien, arrested in Rome, New York, is a three-time prior deportee who has felony criminal convictions.”
Homan further said that state policies were forcing ICE agents to make riskier arrests out on the streets when they could be made more simply and safely when suspects in the country illegally were already in custody. He criticized “sanctuary policies in the state that prevent us from taking custody of criminal aliens in the secure confines of a jail.”
Homan dismissed Cuomo’s criticism saying "ICE will continue to protect New York communities against public safety and national security threats.”
Created: April 26, 2018 12:10 AM
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