Ever since Donald Trump became president, we’ve read the shocking stories about undocumented immigrants attempting to do the right thing by going to their scheduled court hearings and ICE check-ins, only to be taken away by immigration officials. It’s as if undocumented immigrants are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. But there are people in high-ranking positions that are looking out for undocumented immigrants and lending them some help.
The New York Times profiled several judges and defense attorneys who regularly inform undocumented immigrants when they spot ICE officials in court or anywhere near their vicinity. Defense lawyers and court officers can usually spot undercover ICE officials who are there to do detain someone, and their chain of communication is very fascinating.
“If a pair of people look suspicious, lawyers from the Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services and the Legal Aid Society send an internal email alert,” The New York Times reports.
Once they send out the email message, undocumented immigrants will find somewhere to hide from ICE agents — including bathrooms. ICE officials don’t wait around forever for their prey, so they often leave when they can’t find the person they’re trying to detain.
“I am asking ICE to reconsider their policy and treat the courthouse with respect,” [Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez] said in the interview https://t.co/FhwoQTOtKE
— Eric Gonzalez (@BrooklynDA) August 3, 2017
At least that’s how it worked for a 29-year-old undocumented Chinese woman who was in court facing charges for overstaying her tourist visa, working as a prostitute, and as an unlicensed masseuse. According to The New York Times, court officers spotted ICE officials and informed the judge. In turn, the judge set bail for the Chinese woman at $500. Although this meant she would have to stay in jail, it actually gave her a chance to meet with her lawyer and avoid being detained by ICE.
As we noted, court officers have at times informed the judge about ICE, because it’s a union policy. However, according to Politico story published in March, court officers in New York were instructed to cooperate with ICE officials “100%” per a memo by the head of the State Court Officers’ union. This means that at least some court officers are not complying with those orders.
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