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Bill Seeks To Ban ICE Agents From Schools, Courts and Houses of Worship

By Ben Fractenberg | March 30, 2017 3:54pm
 Congressman Adriano Espaillat sponsored legislation to protect immigrants for arrest at
Congressman Adriano Espaillat sponsored legislation to protect immigrants for arrest at "sensitive locations" like schools and places of worship.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

MANHATTAN — New York City Congressman Adriano Espaillat introduced federal legislation Thursday that would bar immigration officials from arresting or interviewing people at “sensitive locations,” including schools, places of worship and court houses.

The Protecting Sensitive Locations Act would prohibit ICE officers from arresting, interviewing, searching or surveilling health care facilities, public and private schools, places of worship, DMV offices and other locations that provide emergency service.

“If you go to a family funeral you should not be subject to arrest while you’re grieving your family. If you go pick up your child at school you should be subject to arrest there — right in front of your children,” Espaillat said at a press conference in Washington, D.C., Thursday. 

“So this piece of legislation will codify that and will ensure that ICE agents adhere to the letter of the law.”

The bill was also sponsored by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Jose E. Serrano (D-N.Y.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.).

So far there are 26 co-sponsors to the bill, a spokeswoman for Espaillat said, adding they are hoping to get bipartisan support.

ICE officials did not comment on the legislation, but a spokeswoman referred questions about the proposed policy to the agency's website, which states that enforcement would only take place at sensitive locations in "limited circumstances." 

"ICE or CBP officers and agents may conduct an enforcement action at a sensitive location with prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official, or if the enforcement action involves exigent circumstances," the website said.

President Donald Trump's administration has threatened to cut funding to sanctuary cities like New York that don't cooperate fully with federal authorities when an undocumented immigrant is arrested. 

City officials have said they would continue to shield immigrants who are arrested for low-level crimes and may ban ICE officials from some city property, but questions remain on how much power the city will have to prevent ICE agents from acting independently.