Reprinted with permission from the Times Union
CHATHAM – ICE arrested three undocumented men in a restaurant kitchen raid last week and detained them in the Albany County Jail, according to the Albany County Sheriff and local immigration activists who interviewed one man arrested and a restaurant employee.
Columbia County Sanctuary Movement Executive Director Bryan MacCormack said it was the first time the organization heard of ICE conducting a restaurant raid in the county since October 2016. Usually ICE picks people up in their home, on the street, or leaving court, he said.
One of the men arrested and a restaurant employee told him that ICE officers entered the restaurant Wednesday, January 2 looking to arrest an undocumented man with criminal charges, according to Mr. MacCormack. The officers went back into the kitchen and began questioning workers about their immigration status. They arrested three men — including the one they had initially targeted.
All three men were from Guatemala and did not have immediate relatives in the area, Mr. MacCormack said. One had been in the Capital Region for 12 years.
The Columbia County Sanctuary Movement worked with the Prisoners’ Legal Services, community members and the detainees’ relatives to raise bond for two men — one for $20,000 and the other for $15,000. The third detainee is ineligible for bond because of his particular immigration status.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple confirmed three detainees entered the Albany County Jail on January 2 and two men were released on bond this week.
The activity is indicative of increased ICE arrests, especially of individuals charged with but not convicted of crimes, under the administration of President Donald Trump. ICE arrested more than 158,000 undocumented immigrants in the 2018 fiscal year that ended in October.
Nearly 32,000 had no convictions but pending criminal charges, which was a 50% increase from 2017. In President Trump’s first year in office, the number jumped 255 percent.
The change came after Mr. Trump signed a sweeping executive order in January 2017 that freed ICE to arrest and detain any undocumented immigrant — including those with pending criminal charges who might have been passed over under President Barack Obama’s administration.
“This is to me a perfect example of the absurdity of the immigration situation and removal proceedings and ICE practices at the moment,” Mr. MacCormack said. “What they’ve been doing to folks in our community, they’re coming after people who have been charged with something, the individual has not even been proven guilty yet.”
ICE could not be reached for comment due to the government shutdown.