ICE agents posed as NYPD cops to extract information from a man’s relatives before arresting him at his Manhattan restaurant, it is alleged.
Fernando Santos-Rodriguez is in jail after his unwitting wife supplied his cell phone number to ICE officers during a 6am door-knock, his family says.
The plain-clothes officers claimed there had been a mix-up with another man and assured his wife Maria that all would be resolved once he provided ID, she claims.
Local politicians condemned the alleged ruse as a ‘political tool of intimidation and harassment’, and NYC mayor Bill de Blasio last week said there were ‘numerous reports’ of ICE agents posing as local police.
Family members, elected officials and immigration activists give a press conference in New York City about the alleged ICE ruse to arrest Fernando Santos-Rodriguez
Mr Santos-Rodriguez, 48, is now facing a deportation hearing and is in ICE custody at the Hudson County Jail in New Jersey.
‘He is a good man. He is not a criminal,’ said his wife Maria.
The father-of-four was arrested when he arrived for his shift at the Harlem restaurant where he works as a chef, according to the New York Daily News.
Ydanis Rodriguez, a Democratic city council member, said the ICE agents had identified themselves as officers from the NYPD’s 34th precinct.
However, Rodriguez said he had spoken to the head of the 34th precinct who informed him that none of its officers were at that address.
The ICE officers allegedly showed Maria a ‘barely visible, crumpled up paper’ with a photo of another man who supposedly had the same name.
After they assured Maria that contacting her husband would resolve the mix-up, she supplied his phone number and they proceeded to call on him at work, it is claimed.
Santos-Rodriguez has lived in New York for 30 years, his family says. They did not say what his country of origin was.
ICE has yet to comment on the claims.
Rodriguez, the city council member, directly pointed the finger at Donald Trump for using ICE to ‘traumatize’ immigrant families.
‘Most troubling is the knowledge that ICE has been deceiving families into believing they are NYPD officers,’ he said.
Eric Adams, the borough president of Brooklyn, said that ‘our federal agencies should not be used as a political tool of intimidation and harassment’.
‘You cannot violate the law to carry out the law,’ he said.
Carmen De La Rosa, a Democratic state assemblywoman, said she was ‘livid’ at the alleged ruse.
‘ICE came into our community, impersonated municipal law enforcement officers, violated state law and took one of our neighbors,’ she said.
NYC mayor Bill de Blasio (pictured) last week said there were ‘numerous reports’ of ICE agents posing as local police
‘A family in pain must now put the pieces back together.’
On Friday, Mayor de Blasio wrote to ICE saying he was ‘deeply concerned’ about reports of federal agents impersonating NYPD officers.
New York City says it ‘does not enforce federal immigration law’, saying it is the responsibility of the federal government.
‘We have heard of instances where ICE officers allegedly stated that they were in fact local police officers from specific police precincts or squads,’ de Blasio said.
‘These types of activities jeopardize the willingness and comfort of immigrant New Yorkers in interacting with the NYPD on crucial matters involving public safety and local law enforcement.
‘Clearly stated, the NYPD does not want ICE agents stating or implying that they represent the NYPD.
Such behavior negatively affects the public safety mission of the NYPD and erodes trust in our communities.
‘Accordingly, we ask that you immediately issue guidance to your agents prohibiting them from stating or implying that they represent the NYPD.’
De Blasio’s letter marked the latest flashpoint in a long-simmering conflict over NYC’s so-called sanctuary policies.
Earlier this year, ICE took the city to court after it stalled over ‘immigration subpoenas’ it received from the federal government, seeking information about a handful of inmates wanted for deportation.
City officials said the subpoenas lacked a legitimate purpose and called them a ‘political stunt’ seeking information that ICE could obtain through other means.
The city ultimately provided limited details about the inmates, who were all released from custody despite ICE demands that they be turned over for deportation.