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Immigration detention and the Protect Our Courts Act

Though many people don't realize it, the American judicial system is meant to give due process to anyone within its jurisdiction. However, many immigrants are concerned that they may be at risk of detention or deportation if they attempt to make use of their legal rights. New York is considering new state legislation that would help curb arrests and immigration detention when an immigrant is in court or right outside of it, and supporters are saying that the new laws will benefit communities around the state.

The Protect Our Courts Act is meant to stop civil arrests of immigrants as they attend court proceedings for matters unrelated to immigration. In the past, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has made arrests of immigrants who are going to court to varying reasons, and this law would only allow those arrests if ICE officials have a judicial warrant. The state Senate has been working to get this bill passed, but some recent problems with certain areas of the state have prevented that from happening.

Arrests of immigrants around courthouses have gone up in the last couple of years, with an astounding 1700% increase from 2016 to 2018. Supporters of this legislation say that without it, immigrants are afraid to report crimes they experience, or answer to the nonviolent crimes they may have been charged with. Immigrants, they argue, have as much right as citizens do to be treated fairly by the judicial system. The bill would stop ICE officials from making an arrest in an area around or inside a state courthouse with only an administrative ICE warrant.

Those here in New York who have concerns about how immigration detention may apply to them or a loved one may want to reach out to an attorney. A legal professional with experience in immigration law can explain all of the rights and available options to an immigrant and his or her family. Everyone deserves thorough legal representation, regardless of legal status.

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