U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested a man in Ithaca, a sanctuary city, on Tuesday, according to a local activist network. He would be the third person ICE has arrested in Ithaca in two weeks.
ICE detained the man in downtown Ithaca in the middle of the day, according to Ithaca College Prof. Patricia Rodriguez, a member of the Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition’s steering committee.
Rodriguez said members of the coalition’s Rapid Response Network learned of the arrest from witnesses shortly after it occurred. Rodriguez told The Sun that the witnesses had seen ICE on the Ithaca Commons, but she declined to identify the apprehended man, his exact location at the time of the arrest or the witnesses.
Sara Schaffzin, a spokesperson for the Rapid Response Network, said witnesses had requested that the network not identify them.
During a sweep of Western New York earlier this month, ICE arrested two people who reportedly were employed by Taste of Thai. Officers arrested Somkiat Wandee and Patithan Maiyodklang, both Thai nationals, on Tuesday, Jan. 9 in Ithaca, an ICE spokesperson, Khaalid Walls, confirmed.
Both Wandee and Maiyodklang are currently being held at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia. Carlos Gutierrez, a health and safety trainer at the Tompkins County Workers’ Center, said they were detained by ICE while working at Taste of Thai and that one of them had missed an appointment with immigration officials, the Ithaca Voice reported.
A hostess at Taste of Thai on Tuesday evening told The Sun that the restaurant’s owner was currently in Thailand and that she was not authorized to discuss the arrests. She declined to say if there was an arrest today.
Walls did not have any information available on Tuesday’s arrest when he was contacted on Tuesday afternoon.
Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 said the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a branch, contacted Ithaca Police on the morning of the Jan. 9 arrest and told the department that there was going to be a DHS operation in the city, although the DHS official did not specify that it was an ICE operation, Myrick said.
The DHS official asked the Ithaca Police Department if it wanted to stand by during the operation on Jan. 9 and IPD declined, Myrick said. Officer Jamie Williamson said the department was not notified by DHS on Tuesday.
ICE is “going out of their way to take working people off of the street just to prove some point,” Myrick told The Sun earlier this month.
ICE arrested Jose Guzman-Lopez, a Mexican national, on May 2, when he was on his way to work at Saigon Kitchen, The Sun previously reported. All three ICE operations in Ithaca have occurred on Tuesdays, some activists have noted.
Guzman-Lopez recently pleaded guilty to having a fake green card on him at the time of his arrest and an immigration judge released him on $10,000 bond earlier this month as his deportation case continues, Tompkins Weekly reported.
The two arrests earlier this month occurred during a five-day sweep in Western New York in which ICE said in a news release that it detained 35 men and 11 women who are foreign nationals. ICE said in the release that half of those arrested during the sweep had criminal convictions and that the operation “targeted public safety threats,” although the unsigned release also said it was targeting “other immigration violators” as well.
The City of Ithaca passed sanctuary city legislation in February of last year, prohibiting IPD and other city employees from inquiring about a person’s immigration status or providing ICE with access to an individual if the sole purpose is to enforce federal immigration law.
When the Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, told a Senate committee this month that the Department of Justice is exploring “what avenues might be available” to arrest and charge local officials who enact sanctuary city laws, Myrick said federal officials would have to put him “under the jail.”
“If the President forces ICE to go into communities they are not welcome — so be it — we can’t stop them,” Myrick wrote on Facebook, adding that as long as he was the mayor, he and IPD “are not going to do President Trump’s bidding.”
The Rapid Response Network runs a hotline and Schaffzin urged anyone who witnesses an arrest by ICE or Customs and Border Patrol to call 607-358-5119.