Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking a tougher stance with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. In a cease-and-desist letter sent last Wednesday, Cuomo called out ICE on recent actions in the state, threatened to follow with legal action, and announced modification of an executive order to prohibit ICE from making arrests in state facilities without a warrant.
ICE must "direct your agents operating in New York to follow the clear constitutional requirements attendant to searches and arrests," the letter says, "stop illegally targeting individuals based on their constitutionally protected speech, and properly engage state and local law enforcement when performing any enforcement action within the State of New York."
"If you fail to do so," the letter continues, "I will explore and pursue all available legal recourse, taking any such action that is necessary to protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers."
The letter came after reports of a raid on a Rome dairy farm, which resulted in the detention of farmworker Marcial De Leon Aguilar. The letter cites that event along with a recent sweep in Staten Island and an accusation that ICE is targeting immigrants who have publicly protested.
"We applaud the governor on the recent measures," Alianza Agricola, a regional farmworkers group said in a statement, "and yet we know we need strong legislation that more truly protects Upstate New York's immigrant community."
The letter also had support from Richard Ball, commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. Many of Upstate's farms depend heavily on undocumented and migrant farm workers. "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," Ball said.
During an immigration rally last Thursday outside of the Syracuse ICE office, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon said Cuomo's actions were late and don't go far enough. Cuomo should order various departments to stop sharing information, like fingerprints and biographical information, with ICE and not honor detainer requests, Nixon said.