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Hudson police and immigration advocates find common ground

Hudson Police Commissioner Martha Harvey has resigned.
March 18, 2019 10:08 pm

HUDSON — The Hudson City Police Department will adopt a policy governing how officers can recognize and respond to the different types of warrants executed by federal immigration agents after the attempted detention of two men by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the city earlier this month.

The decision was reached at a meeting called by Mayor Rick Rector on Friday at City Hall, 520 Warren St., between city leaders and members of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement.

Columbia County Sanctuary Movement Executive Director Bryan MacCormack was behind the wheel when ICE agents attempted to detain two undocumented men who were passengers in his vehicle at the corner of Fifth and Warren streets in Hudson on March 5.

The two men, who have not been identified, appeared in Hudson City Court on unknown charges minutes before they were stopped by ICE agents.

At MacCormack’s request, the meeting called by the mayor was open to the public, who were able to ask questions. MacCormack accused Hudson police of collaborating with ICE in violation of an executive order issued by the city’s mayor and police commissioner in May 2017.

Rector opened the meeting by assuring the public the city would consider all issues raised by both parties.

“No one is on trial here,” Rector said. “We are simply determining if any revisions are needed to the adopted resolution and order.”

Since the Welcoming and Inclusive City order was put in place in 2017, Hudson police had contact with ICE four times, and each time was documented to the mayor and Common Council, according to the order, Moore said.

Moore once again affirmed that his department does not report to ICE when they come into contact with an undocumented individual.

“We don’t tip off ICE,” Moore said. “We don’t call them. At any given time I have two, maybe three officers working. I can assure the public the best that I can we’re not dropping a dime on ICE to say here is someone that is undocumented. Anyone that has spent any time at the department knows that we have enough going on. And it’s never been our history to do that, either.”

As evidence, Moore said, no Hudson police officer in his tenure, or in previous years, to his knowledge, has submitted evidence, been subpoenaed to testify in an ICE prosecution or had to appear at trial.

“That would all be easily documented,” Moore said.

Moore was motivated to send out two officers to ensure public safety in case the attempted detention on March 5 got out of hand. Moore generally spoke about how some traffic stops around the country have turned violent in recent years. He wanted to keep the public out of harm’s way in case the incident became combative, he said.

“I think the officers, from every account that I got, did exactly what I ordered them to do, which was to stand post, observe what was going on in case things get out of hand,” Moore said.

ICE agents tried to detain the two individuals with a civil immigration detainer, or administrative warrant, MacCormack said. An administrative warrant is typically signed by an ICE agent, declaring that a person is designated for possible deportation proceedings.

MacCormack did not have to comply with the agents’ orders or roll down his car window since the warrant was not a judicial warrant, or an official court document signed by a judge that orders the arrest of someone based on probable cause, he said.

Moore took responsibility for not asking ICE officials what type of warrant they had during the attempted detention of the two men.

“Not determining whether it was a judiciary warrant or an administrative warrant was completely on me,” Moore said.

Rector was presented with several prospective policies to be put in place by police shortly after he took office in 2018, MacCormack said, adding he wished they were acted on.

Hudson police will most likely adopt a policy similar to the one drafted by the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office.

The policy outlines different types of warrants executed by ICE and how officers may request to see those warrants. Moore will immediately begin training officers once the policy is put into place, he said.

Moore invited MacCormack to review a draft of the policy once it is completed. MacCormack agreed.

“Maybe the next generation of this kind of interaction, the officers will be trained enough to go up and say [to an ICE agent], “Excuse me sir, do you have an administrative warrant. What’s going on here,” Moore said.

The discussion then turned to whether police should question an arrestee’s citizenship status. Police do not ask witnesses or those seeking assistance through the police or randomly stop people on the street to ask their status. But citizenship status is included on all city police arrest reports.

There have been approximately 12 detentions by ICE based on court appearances in the city, MacCormack said. Detaining undocumented immigrants before their case is adjudicated denies many immigrants their right to due process, MacCormack said.

“Sometimes they’ve [ICE agents] entered the courthouse and other times, like this one, they monitored outside of them,” MacCormack said. “It is an issue that is clearly beyond the Hudson Police Department.”

Moore speculated it is possible federal agencies were able to access citizenship status information through the FBI’s fingerprint database. Information on when and where defendant is appearing in Hudson City Court is public information and can be viewed by searching a defendant’s name or for a court calendar on the New York State Unified Court System’s online database.

Common Council President Thomas DePietro has been tasked to discover if the state Attorney General’s Office has ordered or will order police departments from refraining from asking arrestees their citizenship status. Moore said his department will comply with whatever has been or will be ordered by the state Attorney General’s Office.

More meetings will be scheduled in the future to see what, if any, progress has been made, Rector said at the end of the meeting.