HUDSON–The driver of the car stopped by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Hudson March 5 conversed with Hudson City officials about the episode and its implications at Hudson City Hall March 15, in front of an overflow audience.
Columbia County Sanctuary Movement Executive Director Bryan McCormack, who had driven the car, Mayor Rick Rector, Common Council President Tom DePietro, Alderman Kamal Johnson (D-1st Ward), and Police Chief Ed Moore discussed the how police interacted with ICE officials during the episode, the citizenship question and translation services. The meeting was calm.
Chief Moore reported, “On March 5, I got a call from ICE. They said they had a warrant to arrest two men in a car driven by Bryan. I sent two police officers. The decision to send them was mine and mine alone.” At the scene, “the officers saw Bryan sitting behind the wheel and lots of ICE officers around the vehicle, but they did not see the men. I instructed them to stand and watch. Then an ICE officer told our officers that they would not execute an arrest. So I told our officers to leave.” The Hudson officers had been there eight or nine minutes.
Mr. McCormack said what happened was “pretty much as Moore said. But I would dispute that the Hudson police simply stayed and watched. He said, “My concern is there was no attempt to verify what kind of warrant.”
The warrant the ICE officers had presented was administrative, and Mr. McCormack had kept them out of his car by telling them the only warrant that would permit them to enter the car was judicial warrant.
Chief Moore explained the two types of warrants: a judicial warrant is signed by a judge; an administrative warrant is signed by an official (such as an ICE officer) with authorization from the federal government. The chief said, “Our officers have a lack of knowledge of warrants.”
“Bryan says one of your own officers was walking by with a camera recording him,” said a woman in the audience.
“I want all officers to have body cameras so we can be more transparent,” replied Chief Moore.
“The Hudson Police has one mission and one mission alone, and that is public safety,” Chief Moore said. “Our officers were there to contain a situation. If there had been a melee or fight, our officers would have tried to protect everybody.” He said that would have included Mr. McCormack.
“We don’t reach out to ICE; I don’t tip off ICE,” Chief Moore continued. “I don’t know where ICE headquarters are. The March 5 incident was only our fourth contact since February 2017. We have enough work without getting involved in ICE issues. But ICE has a lot more resources than us. At any one time, we have 2 or 3 officers working. ICE can easily send down 22 officers. But no Hudson police officer has ever been subpoenaed for an ICE prosecution, at least in my tenure. ”
“How does the ICE know when someone is in court? How do they know it’s an undocumented person?” asked Mr. DePietro. When approached by ICE, Mr. McCormack had been driving the undocumented immigrants from the County Courthouse.
“When someone is identified by fingerprints, they go to the FBI,” said Chief Moore.
Mr. McCormack reported, “There have been about 12 ICE detentions in Hudson based on court arrests. They’re denied due process.”
In addition, he said, since ICE and police reports are confidential, “we have no way to verify” their story of what happened.
“I’m required to report all ICE activity in Hudson,” said Chief Moore. “I dutifully make my own report within minutes. As fast as possible, I get the report to the mayor and the Common Council.” But he said federal officials are concerned that “too many people seeing the reports could put some individuals in danger.” In addition, Chief Moore suggested that ICE tells him about only some of the times the agency is in town.
On May 18, 2017, the Hudson Common Council adopted a resolution restraining the Hudson Police Department from “engaging in activities solely for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration laws.”
Mr. Rector, then an alderman, said he “supported and voted for this resolution. I still support it. He said that if anyone questions whether somebody is “adhering to this resolution, please tell me.”
The 2017 resolution disallows the police inquiring whether an individual is a citizen “unless necessary to investigate criminal activity by the individual.”
But Chief Moore said he would need additional legal authority “to say we don’t have to ask it” in certain circumstances.
Mr. DePietro said he is looking into whether the attorney general has issued orders about posing the citizenship question post-arrest.
Mr. McCormack said that both passengers in his car March 5 speak limited English and had been in court because of arrests in which they had not fully understood the officers. One had told a Hudson police officer he did not understand English, and the officer said “Okay,” and continued the interrogation in English. One was given a breathalyzer and a sobriety test. He did not understand that he had the legal option of not taking them. And when he took them, all the instructions were in English.
“This case should have been dismissed,” said Chief Moore, because of the person’s lack of comprehension. When police arrest a person and find out the person does not understand English, “we bring in a translator from the Sheriff’s Office or State Police.” If the person ends up before a judge, the person gets the services of either a Spanish-speaking public defender, a court translator, or a real-time video recorder.”
He also said, “We’re developing a new policy” regarding language. “I would be glad to have you look over it as we write it,” Chief Moore told Mr. McCormack.
At public comment time, one woman stated, “I’m concerned that there was no police training after the 2017 resolution,” and another told Chief Moore, “You don’t represent the directly affected population.”