FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2020
RAC-NY Commends Governor Cuomo for Signing Protect Our Courts Acts
NEW YORK – In response to Governor Cuomo’s signing of the Protect Our Courts Act (S00425A/A2176A), which will prevent federal immigration enforcement agents from arresting immigrant New Yorkers while they are in court, Lee Winkelman, RAC-NY Lead Organizer, and Rabbi Peter Stein of Temple B'rith Kodesh in Rochester, NY issued the following statements on behalf of RAC-NY, a project of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:
Lee Winkelman, RAC-NY Lead Organizer: “The Protect Our Courts Act became law this week. RAC-NY and Reform congregations across the state supported this bill which prevents Federal deportation authorities from arresting immigrants in New York courts.
“As RAC-NY’s top 2020 legislative priority, Reform congregations reached out to their legislators to urge them to vote in favor of Protect Our Courts. RAC-NY sent a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to sign the bill. RAC-NY worked closely with Make the Road New York, the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Immigrant Defense Project, who led the successful effort to pass the bill.
“The passage of the Protect Our Courts Act comes after a pre-pandemic surge in courthouse arrests. In 2019, there were 203 ICE courthouse arrests and attempted arrests in New York State – a dramatic increase from 11 operations in 2016. Those taken by ICE from court include survivors of domestic violence, members of the LGBTQ community and asylum seekers, among others.”
Rabbi Peter Stein of Temple B'rith Kodesh in Rochester, NY: “Our Jewish tradition teaches us to welcome the stranger. Our ancestor were strangers in Egypt, and our more recent ancestors were strangers in the United States when they came here from other lands. This law is important for the public safety and the successful operation of our courts, but beyond that it fulfills the moral imperative to care for the most vulnerable among us.
“RAC-NY commends bill sponsors Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly member Michaelle Solages along with Governor Cuomo for their efforts to make Protect Our Courts the law in New York.”
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 850 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.