Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages today announced the passage of the Protect Our Courts Act, which would ensure that all members of the community are able to participate in the justice system without fear of immigration related civil arrests while going to or returning from a court proceeding (A.2176A, Solages).
As the federal government continues its attacks on immigrants throughout the country, the Assembly Majority has never stopped advocating for the honest and hardworking immigrants who help make up our diverse communities, said Speaker Heastie. This bill will ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, are able to participate in our justice system without fear of arrest or deportation.
We have fought tirelessly to protect New Yorkers from the unjust federal policies that target our immigrant communities, said Assemblymember Solages. This legislation will protect all New Yorkers access to the justice system, to ensure public safety.
This bill would prohibit an immigration-related courthouse arrest, which is an arrest while on the way to or returning from a court proceeding. It would promote public safety and ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the justice system and can attend court without fear of immigration consequences.
According to the Immigrant Defense Project, from 2016-17 arrests by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at courthouses in New York increased by 1,200 percent. Fear of being targeted, either due to a lack of documented immigration status or concern about the uncertain status of a family member, have dissuaded many individuals from contacting law enforcement or following through with necessary court proceedings. District attorneys and legal representatives have expressed frustration and concern regarding their ability to pursue cases, as victims and witnesses are sometimes too afraid to attend court proceedings. This inability of law enforcement and the legal system to work effectively with immigrant communities and individuals has potentially severe consequences for public safety.