Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

“Daily News: Brooklyn DA, New York AG Demand a Halt to ICE Raids Following Murder Case Witness’ Detainment”

August 3, 2017

As published by The New York Daily News, on August 3, 2017.

They want to put the ice on ICE.

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are calling out U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop harassing non-citizen defendants and their families while in state courts.

“We must not allow a large number of our residents to live in the shadows and stop cooperating with law enforcement – but the Trump administration is now creating this dangerous reality,” Gonzalez said in a press release.

At a news conference Thursday morning, Gonzalez called for the immediate release of William Siguencia Hurtado, who has been detained by federal agents since June 29 for being an undocumented immigrant — despite providing valuable testimony in two Brooklyn homicide cases, as reported in the Daily News.

“Willie Hurtado is a hero,” Gonzalez said about the married father of two who works as a tax-paying livery cab driver and whose U.S. citizen wife is trying to get him a visa.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office has praised Hurtado for his work in the two criminal cases and wrote a letter on his behalf to the feds in 2014 to help him win permanent status, the Daily News has reported.

“Targeting immigrants at our courthouses undermines our criminal justice system and threatens public safety,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “If the Trump Administration continues to arrest people in the heart of our justice system, immigrants will be less likely to serve as witnesses or report crimes — and that leaves us all at risk.”

 Legal professionals, social workers and service providers say more victims and witnesses are reluctant to corporate with state authorities out of fear of being targeted by ICE.

“ICE’s presence in local courts undermines the essential functions of our criminal justice system and deters New Yorkers from seeking vital court protections and services,” said Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of the Criminal Practice at the Legal Aid Society.

Luongo and leaders of other local immigration organizations like the New York Immigration Coalition applauded Gonzalez and Schneiderman’s position.

“When you attack our courthouses, its weakening a central pillar of our community,” said Steven Choi, the New York Immigration Coalition’s Executive Director, said at the news conference.

A recent survey by the Immigrant Defense Project has found there have been about 60 arrests and attempted arrests in New York State courts so far this year, with at least eight of them in Brooklyn.

Only 11 arrests were reported statewide in 2016 and 14 in 2015.

Lee Wang from the Immigrant Defense Project explained that during their research, they found that ICE agents show up in court in groups of two or four.

“Some are in plain clothes, some are with badges, some are not. Some won’t even identify themselves or show warrants to defense attorneys. They are like rogue operators,” Wang said at the press conference. “We should also be asking ourselves, how do the ICE agents know about family court appearances when those cases are not public?”