The detention of two people in the city Tuesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on warrants was thwarted in part by city residents and the leader of an immigrants rights’ group.
Three ICE agents attempted to detain two passengers in a vehicle that was stopped near the corner of Fifth and Warren streets at about 9 a.m.
But the driver and several other citizens at the scene refused to allow agents to enter the vehicle or detain the individuals without a warrant signed by a judge.
After some heated exchanges, the ICE agents backed off and left 10 minutes later without making any arrests.
“During an attempted targeted enforcement action March 5, in which ICE deportation officers specifically sought two unlawfully present foreign nationals, an individual interfered with the enforcement action, causing officers to instead depart the scene to avoid further disruption,” according to a statement from ICE.
Columbia County Sanctuary Movement Executive Director Bryan MacCormack identified himself Wednesday as the driver who blocked the agents. The Sanctuary Movement is an organization that aims to support immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, in the county.
The two passengers inside his vehicle, both men, refused to leave at ICE’s request, MacCormack said. And the men did not have to comply, he added.
“Three of them [ICE agents] had surrounded the car taking pictures,” MacCormack said. “I knew it was not a judicial warrant. I told him none of my passengers had to comply. The warrant was not signed by a judge. There is nothing that makes it a legal document we have to comply with.”
MacCormack said the two men sought by ICE were not detained thanks to the Sanctuary Movement’s efforts to encourage immigrants, regardless of their status, to know their rights.
When questioned by an ICE agent while inside the vehicle, one of the men did not identify himself, which is not required by law, MacCormack said.
MacCormack appeared with the two individuals sought by ICE on behalf of the Sanctuary Movement in Hudson City Court minutes before his vehicle was pulled over Tuesday.
MacCormack would not identify the two men sought by ICE, but said they were still hiding in “sanctuary” Wednesday. MacCormack said he did not know if the men were documented or undocumented.
The warrants against the two individuals were for immigration violations, according to ICE. The federal agency declined to identify the two men, citing privacy concerns, the agency said Wednesday.
At about 8:59 a.m. Tuesday, Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore received a call from ICE officials about a potential dangerous situation at Fifth and Warren streets because the agents were meeting resistance from the driver of a vehicle.
Hudson police were contacted to ensure public safety, ICE officials said in a statement.
Moore said he was contacted during the attempted arrest, but was not told the reason.
“I told [the officer] to proceed to the scene with the mission of ensuring public safety as ICE attempts to make their arrest,” Moore said.
The Hudson police officers did not approach the vehicle or assist ICE officers, Moore said.
Moore said he contacted Mayor Rick Rector after the call from ICE. Immediately after Hudson police officers left the scene, Moore made a report to the mayor and the Common Council about what transpired.
“At 9:12 a.m., I contacted Mayor Rector and updated him,” Moore said.
During the attempted arrest, MacCormack called several people to come to the scene and serve as witnesses to the incident, including Common Council Majority Leader and 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga.
MacCormack and Garriga said Hudson police collaborated with ICE agents. Garriga plans to contact Rector about the incident.
“When I arrived, I noticed HPD was assisting ICE,” Garriga said. “I reminded them [the officers] HPD this was a sanctuary city and that they were not to assist ICE agents.”
Moore called the accusation his department collaborated with ICE “completely wrong.”
“When we are advised by any police agency in the city about the potential for violence, we will respond 100 percent of the time,” Moore said. “Our mission is to not only to ensure the safety of the officer, but also the public and the defendant.”
Moore defended his decision to send two officers to the scene.
“If I do not involve our department at some level when I am advised of a potentially dangerous situation I would be remiss in my duty,” Moore said.
As agents surrounded the vehicle, Garriga asked to see a warrant, which did not appear to be signed by a judge, she said.
In response to the resistance from individuals, ICE responded: “Individuals who intervene in or seek to impede ICE officers while they are carrying out their mission recklessly endanger not only the enforcement personnel, but also the individuals targeted for arrest and potentially innocent bystanders,” according to the statement from ICE. “Those who engage in such actions expose themselves to potential criminal violations, and run the risk of harming the very people they purport to support.
“Despite these attempts to obstruct ICE’s lawful efforts to apprehend criminal aliens and immigration violators, the agency remains committed to its efforts to uphold public safety,” ICE added.
“It would appear that the HPD were following guidelines established by the Welcoming and Inclusive City resolution by the Common Council in March 2017,” Rector said. “The Hudson Police were never directly involved in any ICE activity other than monitoring the situation from a distance to ensure the safety of our community.”