New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued a cease and desist letter to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) following a raid on a farm in his state without a warrant.
On April 16, dairy worker Marcial deLeon Aguilar was arrested on a Rome, N.Y., farm by ICE agents who failed to issue a warrant or identify themselves.
Gov. Cuomo sent a letter to ICE demanding an immediate stoppage of “reckless and unconstitutional practices” in what he calls “an assault on our democracy.”
“I demand ICE immediately cease and desist this pattern of conduct, and if they fail to do so, I will pursue all available legal recourse and commit to doing everything in my power to protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers,” Cuomo says. “In New York, where Lady Liberty holds her torch high, we will defend our democracy and protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers.”
In the letter Cuomo notes a report from Farm Credit East using Census data that shows estimated approximately 1,080 New York farms would be impacted by the deportation of undocumented agricultural workers. The letter states that agriculture production in New York would decrease by 24%, resulting in a loss of $1.37 billion. More than 21,500 on-farm workers, both immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens, could lose their jobs. Additionally, nearly 23,500 people in other agricultural related industries and services could lose employment.
New York Department of Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball thanked Cuomo for standing up for farmers and farm workers.
“The raids on New York farms and the arrests of our workers has left many farm families fearful and angry. 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 says.
Cuomo says there has been an increase in the number of ICE raids in his state and the agency has been using overly aggressive tactics. He instructed Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who runs the Liberty Defense Project, to expedite funding to two legal organizations that can provide expedited legal services - the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the Vera Institute of Justice.
“New York welcomes our immigrant brothers and sisters who bring so much to our state. We stand with them and support their efforts to find a better life on our shores, and Governor Cuomo is taking real action to remove the arbitrary and senseless barriers put in place by the federal government,” Rosado says. “We are a nation of immigrants, and New York will always serve as a guiding beacon for those who wish to find the American Dream.”
New York’s budget for 2018 includes an additional $10 million of funding for the Liberty Defense Project to help pay for legal services for those in immigrant communities.
The on-farm raid in New York was the second reported arrest made by ICE on a dairy farm in the U.S. this year. In January, two Wisconsin dairy farm workers were arrested at separate farms, but ICE maintains those arrests were not raids.
Interested in learning more about what to do if ICE comes to your farm? Read this story.