It’s no surprise that ICE has been stepping up their enforcement under the new administration. Increasingly, ICE is targeting immigrants who are in the process of going through a court hearing, regardless of whether they have been convicted of a crime. To do so, ICE has begun arresting immigrants at courthouses and in the immigrants’ own homes. Recently, two of our clients were arrested in similar actions. We’re ready to fight for them and ensure that they receive the fair treatment they deserve.
On April 3, 2018, Alejandro Martinez was arrested by ICE agents on the steps of the criminal courthouse at 100 Centre St. in Manhattan. This arrest came after an unsuccessful attempt by ICE officials to arrest Mr. Martinez in his own home. Mr. Martinez had appeared in court to answer to a misdemeanor charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree filed by the New York County District Attorney’s Office. The charge had been made due to a detective noticing that Mr. Martinez had a gravity knife clipped to his belt while Mr. Martinez was replenishing a parking meter. According to Mr. Martinez’s employer, the New York Department Store, the knife was a critical tool for Mr. Martinez in the course of his duties there.
Prior to being arrested on April 3, Mr. Martinez hat retained our firm to serve as private counsel. His concern for being wanted by ICE proved to be true, and he was arrested after leaving a hearing in which he and his attorney had led for a reduced charge.
Upon receiving news of his arrest, our team set to work to have his criminal charges dismissed. The case was advanced to April 13, 2018, and our attorneys successfully persuaded the New York District Attorney to dismiss Mr. Martinez’s charges in the name of justice. Mr. Martinez, however, still remains in ICE custody, despite having been cleared of his charges.
Our team is hopeful about the possibility of a Cancellation of Removal for Mr. Martinez. With his unblemished criminal record, long-time common-law relationship with his wife, who is a legal resident of the US, and his history as a taxpayer, Mr. Martinez is in good stead to have his deportation action stopped. In addition to these factors, Mr. Martinez is also the father of a US citizen with special needs, and should be there for his child.
A second client, Armando York, was arrested in his home, pending criminal charges for a Felony drug possession case. He has retained our firm’s counsel for both his criminal and immigration hearings. We are working hard to ensure that both Mr. York’s and Mr. Martinez’s rights are recognized and that they are returned to their families quickly.
We are disturbed that ICE agents are relying on this tactic to arrest immigrants. Policing immigration at criminal courts causes immigrants to be afraid to appear in court. This can result in warrants for their arrest, making matters worse. Additionally, immigrants who are victims of criminal activity may feel unsafe attending court to witness against those who have harmed them, making it more difficult for prosecutors to serve justice.
At The Portela Law Firm, P.C., we are committed to seeing that our clients’ voices are heard. We will fight for your rights to ensure that you are protected. Our New York immigration and criminal attorneys understand your needs. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help today.