Our momentum continues! Legislators returned to Albany this week and passed the Protect Our Courts Act (POCA). This makes it unlawful for any law enforcement officer, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to make an arrest in or near state courthouses.
POCA helps ensure equal access to courts for ALL New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, and marks significant progress towards the decriminalization of our communities.
Too often, ICE has aggressively lurked at or around courthouses, arresting immigrants showing up for their court appearances. This has deterred community members from trying to access the legal system and has undermined due process across the state. Immigration enforcement is on the rise again and ensuring safe access to our justice system is critical.
We thank lead bill sponsors, Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, the Immigrant Defense Project, and the ICE Out of Courts coalition for all their work to pass this bill, and we urge Governor Cuomo to sign the bill into law as swiftly as possible.
Today’s victory builds on our long-fought efforts for greater police transparency and accountability and to reform the criminal legal system. Last month, we helped pass a package of bills called the Safer New York Act – which includes repeal of 50a, the Police Statistics and Transparency Act, and the Special Prosecutor bill.
And, this week, we’re also urging legislators to repeal the Walking While Trans Ban, which criminalizes trans women of color for merely walking down the street in their communities and pass the Solutions not Suspensions Act, which addresses gross racial disparities in school discipline across New York.