Bronx public defenders walk off job after 'Dreamer' detained

Josh Einiger Image
Friday, February 9, 2018
Public defenders walk off job after 'Dreamer' detained
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Josh Einiger reports on a walkout in the Bronx after a dreamer was detained by immigration officers

BRONX, New York (WABC) -- More than 100 public defenders -- attorneys for people who can't afford lawyers -- walked out Thursday in protest of their clients getting detained by federal immigration officers.

The civil disobedience happened at the courthouse in the Bronx, with the attorneys saying Immigration and Customs Enforcement has adopted new standard operating procedures under President Donald Trump.

"I don't know what to do right now," said Zaquera Lanier, whose husband was taken away before her eyes. "I don't know what to do. I don't know what to feel right now."

Dembele Lanier had showed up for a court appearance after getting into a fight on a bus. And as he left the building, nearly a dozen ICE agents were waiting.

"And I watched them put him in a car, and that was that," Zaquera said. "They said, 'OK, we Homeland Security. We gotta take you in.' And he asked why, and they said, 'Oh, your DACA application was denied.'"

Dembele is a dreamer whose parents brought him from the Ivory Coast when he was 3. They became citizens, but for years, he never knew he wasn't one. He tried to apply for DACA protection under President Obama, but he couldn't afford the application until last fall, when he finally completed it.

But because President Trump had already ended DACA, it was denied.

After his detention, more than 100 public defenders walked off the job in the Bronx. They say ICE agents are constantly arresting their clients in the courthouse with no rhyme or reason as to why.

"They're trolling the courthouse," said Casey Dalporto, with the Legal Aid Society. "They walk around in the hallways...and it's terrifying our clients. Even the clients who are not deportable are scared."

Ironically, Dembele is one of the million or so dreamers who never got DACA protection, who President Trump claims he wants to help as part of his immigration proposal. But that is not yet law. So apparently, ICE is rounding them up.

Dembele's next court appearance will be before an immigration judge, who may send him 5,000 miles away to a place he left when he was too young to remember.


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