ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Gov. Cuomo signed the Protect Our Courts Act to ensure New Yorkers can freely access the justice system without the 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.

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 state requirement 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.

“Unlike this federal government, New York has always protected our immigrant communities,” Governor 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.”

“This new law is a powerful rebuke to the outgoing Trump administration and their immigration policies that have undermined our judicial system,” Senator Brad Hoylman, Chair of the New York Senate Judiciary Committee said. “After today, New York’s courts will no longer be hunting grounds for federal agents attempting to round-up and initiate deportation proceedings against immigrants. The Protect Our Courts Act bars ICE from making warrantless civil arrests of immigrants attending court proceedings and gives New Yorkers the peace of mind that our courthouses remain sanctuaries of justice.”

“The individual rights granted to all New Yorkers by the U.S. Constitution should not be dependent upon who holds the office of the presidency,” Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, Chair-elect of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus said. “There is a real and tangible fear among the immigrant community that the courts are not safe from ICE intervention, often creating a dangerous barrier for justice. The Protect of Courts Act reaffirms our commitment to the principles of justice that our courts were founded on. All New Yorkers regardless of income, race, religion, or immigration status should have the opportunity to use the court system to advocate for themselves and their interests.”