Man Detained by ICE in Ithaca on Administrative Immigration Violations

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The local ordinance making Ithaca a sanctuary, passed in Ithaca, is just that: local.

According to U.S. immigration attorney Stephen Yale-Loehr, it does not have an impact on Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In fact, local police didn't even know about the arrest until after the fact.

"There are a variety of ways by which ICE can act on its own to arrest someone even if they do live in a Sanctuary city," said Yale-Loehr, who is also a professor at Cornell University Law School.

ICE officials say the man, whose name has not been released, was arrested Tuesday near a home on Cascadilla Street. He was charged with administrative immigration violations and taken to the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility pending removal proceedings. Yale-Loehr says this case does not appear to be out of the ordinary.

"The novelty is simply that it's occuring in Ithaca because we have a sanctuary policy and because the local ICE agents are at least an hour away, so its not common for them to come into Ithaca everyday," Yale-Loehr said.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick is one of many people expressing concerns over the incident. On Facebook, Myrick said: "Reach out to any neighbors or family members that are feeling afraid. Make sure they know how to reach you if they need to. Call your Congressman. Tell them how it makes you feel to know unmarked federal officers are grabbing people off of your sidewalk. Vote, vote, vote."

But Ithaca is not the only Sanctuary City to have ICE take action in their communities.

"Arrests of undocumented immigrants has skyrocketed by 32 percent in the first few months of the Trump administration, and some of those people have criminal records," Yale-Loehr said. "But even most people who don't have criminal records but may be here illegally are more likely to be detained."

Experts like Yale-Loehr urge anyone with an undocumented status to know their rights and have contingency plans in place if detained, which could include getting in touch with someone who knows their situation and making arrangements for children in advance. Additonally, Yale-Loehr says that being detained does not mean automatic deportation. They are still granted due process.

"If they have an avenue for immigration relief like asylum or marrying a U.S. citizen, they will be granted that relief," Yale-Loehr said.

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