An immigrant who was detained by Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents at a Bronx courthouse Monday morning was later released by the agency, his lawyer and a spokeswoman for ICE said.
Rayon Smith, who is from Jamaica, was detained by ICE agents just minutes after his case was dismissed, according to Legal Aid staff attorney Casey Dalporto.
Following Smith’s arrest, hundreds of Legal Aid and Bronx Defenders attorneys walked out of the Bronx County Hall of Justice on East 161st Street and Morris Avenue to demand ICE agents be barred from carrying out warrants on New York court property.
Smith had been charged with misdemeanor assault after a fight in February, in which both he and the other person involved were arrested, Dalporto said. He has no prior criminal record.
He reported to court Monday morning and his case was dismissed, Dalporto said. But ICE agents were at the court waiting for his case to be called and detained him as he walked out, she added.
Smith, who came to the United States in January 2013, remained in the country after his nonimmigrant visa expired, ICE spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow said in an emailed statement Monday evening. The agency had filed a detainer request with the city following his Feb. 19 arrest but it was not honored and he was released from police custody, she added.
Following his detention on Monday, Smith was issued a notice to appear before an immigration judge and was released until his next court date, according to Yong Yow.
The Legal Aid Society, however, said Smith has a pending green card application through his wife, who is a citizen, from 2015. Smith, a father of three children, told his lawyers ICE released him after they realized they issued the warrant in error, per Legal Aid.
mith was given work authorization in 2015 and has been working at a luxury condominium building in the city for over two years, the Legal Aid Society alleged. He nearly lost his job following his detainment by ICE on Monday, the nonprofit said.
The presence of ICE agents at courthouses is “causing a chaotic environment,” according to Dalporto.
“My client in this case was also a victim,” she added. “His case was dismissed and he’s still a victim in the other case.”
The arrest comes three days after a Panamanian man was detained at the Brooklyn criminal courthouse. Attorneys also protested after that arrest.
ICE has said previously that agents are complying with court policies and that the agency “makes efforts to exhaust all other avenues before effecting a courthouse arrest.”