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Cuomo signs Protect Our Courts Act

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Wed, Dec 16th 2020 09:10 am

Legislation builds upon governor's executive order to ensure New Yorkers can freely access justice system without fear of being targeted by federal immigration authorities when traveling to & from state court proceedings

Protections will help ensure New York courts can continue work for all state residents

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed the Protect Our Courts Act (S00425A/A2176A) to, as his press release stated, “ensure New Yorkers can freely access the justice system without fear of being targeted by federal immigration authorities. The legislation addresses longstanding concerns that federal immigration enforcement was deterring immigrants from appearing in New York state courts and impeding the fair administration of justice. It builds upon a prior executive order by the governor and a directive by the chief judge of the New York State Unified Court System.”

"Unlike this federal government, New York has always protected our immigrant communities," Cuomo said. "This legislation will ensure every New Yorker can have their day in court without fear of being unfairly targeted by ICE or other federal immigration authorities."

The bill would not prohibit an arrest warrant from being authorized by a judge. However, an immigration-related courthouse arrest based on an administrative warrant, or without a warrant, would not be permitted. This is currently the requirement on state land and in state buildings per executive order 170.1, issued in 2018 to protect New Yorkers who are accessing essential services on state property to do so without fear of arrest.

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