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Immigration Law

ICE Stalks Targets at NY Human Trafficking Court

Beth Fertig, WNYC, June 16, 2017 - "Public defenders and the state's top judge were rattled Friday after federal immigration agents were present in a Queens criminal courtroom for human trafficking victims.

A WNYC reporter was in the building when Legal Aid lawyers huddled frantically in the hallway: Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had been spotted in the building. The lawyers approached one of the agents, and he acknowledged there were warrants for several people in the building.

The lawyers said they learned from the judge that ICE wanted a young Chinese woman in the Human Trafficking Intervention Courtroom. They said she'd been charged with working illegally as a masseuse, and was about to receive an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal after completing a program with a community group — a goal of human trafficking court.

The attorneys were able to protect their client by asking the judge for bail, and bought enough time for her to leave the building without being detained.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said in a statement she was "greatly concerned" by the presence of ICE agents in the Human Trafficking Court."