Harlem Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Remarks For Joint Public Hearing Of Committee

June 29, 2017

By Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

The recent attempt by ICE to arrest a woman in Human Trafficking Court confirmed our worst suspicions about ICE’s intentions. They are not targeting hardened criminals. They are looking for anyone they can get their hands on—no matter the depth of their roots in the community or the nature of their appearance in court.

Over the last few months, I have been in close communication with the Chief Judge DiFiore and other high-ranking Office of Court Administration officials to stress the urgency of addressing this issue. I want to commend New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks for implementing ground-breaking protocols regarding ICE and other law enforcement activities in New York State Courts. These protocols, which regulate law enforcement activity, including immigration enforcement, in the state’s courthouses are a great first step and send a clear message that we will not tolerate the unnecessary degradation of our justice system. With these protocols, the Chief Judge is leading the way nationally to ensure that ICE does not strip away litigants’ rights to access justice. I hope that other jurisdictions take note of these protocols and implement their own. The integrity of our civil and criminal justice systems as well as the safety of our residents and our nation depends on it.

While these protocols are a significant and much-needed first step, I urge OCA to monitor their implementation closely and enhance them by further restricting disruptive enforcement activity in courthouses and barring arrests by ICE or any other enforcement agency within the courthouses.

In addition to OCA, I would like to thank the Immigrant Defense Project, the Legal Aid Society, HerJustice, Latino Justice PRLDEF, Sanctuary for Families, Bronx Legal Services, and Make the Road NY for their tireless tracking of ICE activity in our courts, as well as their continued advocacy with OCA regarding ICE activity. I would also again like to thank the Chairs of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services and the Committee on Immigration for holding today’s oversight hearing in order to learn in more detail about this pressing issue and explore recommendations for further limiting ICE’s seemingly unbridled enforcement in our courthouses.

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