BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut – Scores of African-Americans, Latinos and other minorities gathered outside of the Golden Hill Street courthouse in Connecticut to protest the arrest of a Jamaican man who was nabbed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents as he left the courthouse on Monday.
According to the CTPost, the Jamaican man, whose name has not yet been revealed, had just been arraigned on drug charges on September 16 and was leaving the Golden Hill Street courthouse when two ICE agents approached him on the steps and arrested him.
On September 17, more than two dozen people, carrying signs that read, “No human being is illegal,” and “Stop deportations, sanctuary city now,” picketed in front of the courthouse.
“We need to keep ICE out of the courthouses,” said Ana Maria Rivera of the Connecticut Immigrants Rights Alliance. “The state is allowing ICE to go into the state courthouses without any oversight.”
Many of the protesters accused judicial marshals, who stood watching the protest from the courthouse steps, of aiding immigration agents to detain undocumented immigrants. But Donald Murphy, director of state marshal services, said that’s not true.“They (marshals) don’t help ICE at all and only get involved if the situation becomes a safety issue in the courthouse,” Murphy said. He said ICE, like any other law enforcement agency, can come into state courthouses to serve legal detainers or arrest warrants. “Often times we don’t know they are in the courthouse,” he added.
Caribbean Nationals Constantly Targeted by ICE
Since the beginning of the year, dozens of Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals have been arrested by ICE agents in cities across the United States. In January of this year, ICE agents arrested 118 foreign nationals over a 5-day period in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley. Among those arrested were citizens of Jamaica, Grenada and the Dominican Republic. In another major immigration raid in May, also in New York, several Caribbean nationals were among the 31 immigrants detained during the sweep from May 19 and 23.
To make matters worse, US President Donald Trump had announced a series of ICE raids in July, scheduled to take place in 10 major cities across the United States. There are no details as to how many Caribbean nationals were arrested during these raids, but Trump has said that the raids were “very successful”.
Caribbean-American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has constantly criticized the Trump administration for the “xenophobic” approach to immigration in the United States. “The New York metro area has the biggest population of undocumented immigrants in the country. They pay taxes and make a positive contribution to our economy. Our ‘Bigot-in-Chief’ and his lackeys in his administration initiated these ICE raids to terrorize and intimidate valued members of our community,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, at a conference in July.
Clarke has reassured the Caribbean American community that she is doing everything in her power to protect immigrants in the US, especially Caribbean immigrants. In July, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that included an amendment by Clarke which regulates the US Department of Defense’s (DOD) involvement with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The amendment prohibits the use of DOD equipment, personnel and facilities to house or construct housing for any foreign nationals who are in custody of ICE.