New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a cease and desist letter to ICE on Wednesday threatening legal action if the agency did not stop its “reckless and unconstitutional” raids.
Cuomo also signed an executive order to stop federal immigration agents from making arrests in state government buildings without valid warrants.
Just days before, ICE announced it had arrested 225 people across New York as part of Operation Keep Safe.
Cuomo described ICE’s efforts as “reckless and unconstitutional,” saying agents had repeatedly raided private properties without warning and failed to present relevant warrants.
“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 New Yorkers,” he said.
ICE Director Thomas Homan responded with a statement expressing his disappointment at Cuomo’s actions.
“As a native New Yorker who began my law enforcement career as a police officer in the state, I was disappointed to learn about the governor’s grandstanding today over the issue of immigration enforcement,” Homan said. “The governor’s comments were inaccurate and an insult to ICE’s sworn law enforcement officers who conduct their lawful mission professionally and with integrity. These brave men and woman leave the safety of their homes every day to protect this great nation and our communities. ICE cannot and will not cease and desist from fulfilling our agency’s congressionally mandated mission of enforcing federal law.”
“Reflecting our commitment to public safety, since September 2016, ICE has arrested nearly 5,000 criminal aliens in New York—individuals with a criminal conviction in addition to their violation of immigration laws. Many of these arrests were conducted at large in the community, which ICE is increasingly forced to do due to sanctuary policies in the state that prevent us from taking custody of criminal aliens in the secure confines of a jail. The governor supports these policies at the expense of the safety of the very same communities he took an oath to protect.”
Homan said that Operation Matador “focused on dangerous MS-13 gang members and associates in New York” and ICE “has arrested 484 individuals for both criminal and/or immigration violations.”
“ICE has increased our resources and assistance upstate to assist local law enforcement in opioid and fentanyl investigations and dismantling cross border crime,” he added.
“With respect to the cases the governor mentioned, Ravi Ragbir, arrested in New York City, is a convicted aggravated felon in addition to his immigration violations. Marcial DeLeon-Aguilar, also a criminal alien, arrested in Rome, New York, is a three-time prior deportee who has felony criminal convictions for reckless aggravated assault and illegal re-entry — also a felony. In each targeted enforcement action in which these specific individuals were sought, ICE officers acted professionally and within their legal authorities under federal immigration law.”
The director said that ICE “will continue to protect New York communities against public safety and national security threats and it is false and offensive for the governor to say otherwise.”