Public Defenders and Community Organizations Demand #ICEOUT of the Courts

Public Defenders and Community Organizations Hold Rally Calling for ICE to be Prohibited From Entering NY Courts

UAW Local 2325 and allies say that the presence of ICE Officers in the Courthouses impedes access to justice and denies due process to defendants and communities.

(Brooklyn, NY) – The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325 (ALAA), along with dozens of unions, immigrant rights organizations, and community groups held a rally on Thursday, December 7th at 1pm at Brooklyn Borough Hall to call on the Office of Court Administration (OCA) and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to immediately implement a policy to prohibit Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents from entering state courthouses, and to end coordination with ICE.  Enacting these policies would help solidify New York City and New York State’s “Sanctuary” status and make sure that our courthouses are places of justice rather than fear.

This rally comes on the heels of a spontaneous walk-out and protest of public defenders in Brooklyn on November 28th, after a client of the Legal Aid Society was detained by ICE during a regular court appearance.  Public defenders have declared their continued commitment to protect their immigrant clients’ rights both in their communities and in the courtroom.  The regular presence of ICE in state courthouses deters immigrant community members from accessing due process and justice.  By allowing ICE presence, OCA is exacerbating the already devastating effects of the Trump Administration’s aggressive anti-immigrant policies.

Public defenders hope to increase pressure on OCA to implement this policy by bringing together a broad alliance of public defenders, legal services groups, community & immigrant organizations, and elected officials, all united behind the demand to keep ICE out of courthouses.

“Our members work day in and day out to zealously represent people from the most marginalized communities in New York City despite the numerous odds stacked against them” said Deborah Wright, President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys. “This sustained attack by ICE, and OCA’s complicity in aiding them, is just one more unnecessary burden for our clients and members to face.  ICE has no place in the Courthouses of a Sanctuary City and OCA must immediately implement rules to prohibit their entry.”

“The issue of immigration affects us all.  The climate being created in this country is unacceptable and we should consistently make clear that we won’t stand for this dehumanization and deprivation of basic human rights” said Jane-Roberte Sampeur, Attorneys of Color at Legal Aid Representative. “ICE has no place in criminal courts.  We want to make clear that we will not normalize this behavior and will stand together to protect our immigrant communities.”

“As we fight back against out-of-control immigration enforcement that tears our communities apart and ruins New Yorkers’ lives, we are outraged that ICE is using heinous practices of detaining people inside and outside of courthouses. This practice creates mistrust with the court and puts family members, neighbors, and loved ones at risk” said Luba Cortés of Make the Road NY.  “We demand a clear policy to evict ICE from courthouses in New York State. We have seen first hand the effects of ICE’s presence in and around the courts, and we refuse to see the lives of the people that we love continue to be destroyed by it.”

###

As the oldest union of attorneys in the country, ALAA – UAW Local 2325, represents 1,200 attorneys and staff members at the Legal Aid Society of New York, The Nassau County Legal Aid Society, the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Federal Defenders of New York, and Youth Represent.