Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents may not make arrests inside New York courthouses without judicial warrants or orders, says a new directive from the New York State Office of Court Administration, the Associated Press reports. The move was hailed by immigration advocates, who said courthouses during the Trump administration increasingly have become places where immigrants appearing on unrelated matters have been taken into federal immigration custody. A report by the Immigrant Defense Project said there were 178 arrests in New York state courthouses last year compared to 11 in 2016. Advocates say immigrants are increasingly fearful to visit courts as a result.
Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks said the state courts had been asked to adopt the policy for some time, and the report was convincing enough to prompt the change. “Judges can’t do their jobs unless people come to court,” he said. Under the policy, ICE officials must present a warrant or order issued by a federal judge that would be reviewed by a New York judge or court attorney before an arrest may be made. “This new rule will truly help protect immigrant New Yorkers from the pervasive and rampant immigration enforcement at courthouses that we have seen on a regular basis since the start of the Trump Administration,” said Janet Sabel of The Legal Aid Society.