Since the election, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has substantially increased the number of immigrants it targets in New York State Courts. For more information, visit our Ice out of the Courts campaign. As a result, many advocates are hearing from immigrants that they have a profound fear of going to court. This includes immigrants who need access to the courts for orders of protection, to defend against criminal charges, and to vindicate their rights as tenants.
To better understand these concerns, a coalition of legal services and community based organizations sent out a survey to the field from June 12 – 23. 225 advocates and attorneys from 31 counties across New York State participated. The participants work in criminal, family, housing, employment, education, and immigration law, and practice in criminal, family, and civil courts in New York State.
ICE’S PRESENCE IN NEW YORK STATE COURTS
- A third of respondents reported seeing ICE agents and/or ICE vehicles in and around the courts where they practice in New York State.
- Respondents have been seen ICE in all five boroughs of NYC; Suffolk; Nassau; Westchester; Columbia; Dutchess, and Putnam.
IMMIGRANTS TOO SCARED TO GO TO COURT
- 74% have worked with immigrants who have expressed fear of the courts because of ICE
- 45% have worked with immigrants who have either failed to file a petition or withdrawn a petition due to fear of encountering ICE in the courts
- 48% say their clients have expressed fear of calling police for fear of ICE
- 29% have worked with immigrants who have failed to appear in court due to fear of ICE
CHILLING EFFECT ON SURVIVORS OF VIOLENCE
A third of the survey participants work with survivors of violence.
- 67% of advocates working with survivors of violence have had clients who decided not to seek help from the courts due to fear of ICE
- 50% have worked with immigrants who are afraid to go to court because their abusive partners have threatened that ICE will be there
- 37% have worked with immigrants who have failed to pursue an order of protection due to fear of ICE
- 48% have worked with immigrants who have failed to seek custody or visitation due to fear of ICE
- 37% have worked with immigrants who have failed to seek a U certification verifying that they are a victim of violence (through the courts, from police, or from a District Attorney’s office)
- 46% have worked with immigrants who have expressed fear of serving as a complaining witness
A sixth of the respondents work with tenants in Housing Court.
- 56% have clients who have expressed fear of filing a housing court complaint due to fear of ICE