Following aggressive ICE raids on New York farms last week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has issued a cease and desist letter to ICE to demand the immediate stop of unconstitutional enforcement actions. In the letter, the Governor condemns the agency’s irresponsible patterns of conduct that target immigrants and jeopardize public safety. In addition, the Governor signed an executive order to modify executive order #170 to prohibit ICE arrests in state facilities without a warrant.
The executive order prohibits state agencies and officers from inquiring about individual’s immigration status unless required by law or necessary to determine eligibility for a benefit or service or disclosing information to federal immigration authorities for the purpose of civil enforcement, and also prohibits law enforcement officers from inquiring about immigration status unless investigating illegal criminal activity.
“The reckless and unconstitutional practices ICE is deploying in our communities violate everything we believe in New York and are an assault on our democracy,” Governor Cuomo said. “I demand ICE immediately cease and desist this pattern of conduct, and if they fail to do so, I will pursue all available legal recourse and commit to doing everything in my power to protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers. In New York, where Lady Liberty holds her torch high, we will defend our democracy and protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers.”
State Department of Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The raids on New York farms and the arrests of our workers has left many farm families fearful and angry. What is happening today has not only shaken the agricultural community, but these actions also have a real potential to impact our agricultural economy with the loss of farms, jobs and production. I thank Governor Cuomo for standing up for our farmers and farm workers and for his commitment to ensure all New Yorkers have equal protection under the law.”
The announcement follows an increase in aggressive tactics in ICE raids across New York, especially affecting farms and the agricultural industry. Last week, the Governor said that the dramatic increase in the number of ICE raids and their overly aggressive tactics raise serious concerns and directed Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who runs the Liberty Defense Project, to expedite funding to two legal organizations that can provide expedited legal services – the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the Vera Institute of Justice.
Under the executive order, civil arrests by federal immigration authorities may only be executed within state buildings when accompanied by a judicial warrant or judicial order authorizing them to take into custody the person who is the subject of such warrant, unless the civil arrest is related to a proceeding within such building.
According to a report released by Farm Credit East, which is based on 2012 Census data, it is estimated approximately 1,080 New York farms would be impacted by the deportation of undocumented agricultural workers, forcing these farms to go out of business or significantly reduce their operations.
New York agricultural production would likely be reduced by more than $1.37 billion or 24 percent. This would result in more than 21,500 on-farm workers losing their jobs, both immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens. The indirect impact could be even more widespread with the reduction of as many as 23,490 workers employed in other agricultural related fields, including agricultural marketing and processing businesses, farm suppliers, and farm service businesses. The substantial loss of farm operations in New York State could lead to increased imports from other countries and the loss of highly valuable farmland to development and other non-agricultural uses.
Last year, New York launched the Liberty Defense Project, a state-led, public-private legal defense fund to ensure that all immigrants, regardless of status, have access to high quality legal counsel. In partnership with leading nonprofit legal service providers, the project has significantly expanded the availability of immigration attorneys statewide.
Since July 2017, the Liberty Defense Project partners have provided more than 10,000 services to immigrants across New York including direct representation in deportation proceedings, other types of direct representation, application assistance, and Know Your Rights Trainings. Around 60 percent of those assisted with deportation defense under the LDP between have been released from detention. Once these individuals are reunited with their families and back home in their communities, they are better placed to receive continued legal assistance to prepare their cases in the hopes of finding long-term relief.
Tags: Agriculture, Farm News, New York, Immigration, Labor