Statement on New OCA Rule Prohibiting Ice Arrests Without a Judicial Warrant at New York State Courthouses

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Janet Sabel, Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society, released the following statement today responding to new rules promulgated by the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) that will prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from making arrests without a judicial warrant or court order at courthouses across New York State.

Since President Trump took office, such ICE arrests have skyrocketed by 1,700% and emboldened ICE agents who routinely use state courthouses as hunting grounds to trap immigrants seeking to vindicate their rights in court, leading to a widespread chilling effect that deters immigrants from participating in the judicial system:

“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. In order for our judicial system to function properly, all immigrants - including our clients who have been accused of a crime, parents appearing in family court, and survivors of abuse, among others - must have unimpeded access to courts.

We laud OCA for enforcing the rule that arrests require judicial warrants, and that immigration warrants that do not meet that standard may not be executed within New York’s courts. We also laud all the dedicated advocates who have worked tirelessly to protect our immigrant clients’ right to go to court without fear of immigration authorities. We now call on New York State lawmakers to enact legislation that will effectuate permanent protections for immigrants attending court.”