Rayon Smith was scheduled to appear in front of a Bronx Criminal Court judge on Monday for an assault charge. The case involved an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred with the suspect’s girlfriend. The charges against him were ultimately dismissed, but as soon as court ended Smith was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The ICE agents were waiting for court to end before hauling Smith away in handcuffs. Smith’s criminal defense lawyer watched his client being dragged away, and he told news stations that police did not allow him to speak with his client at that time. ICE agents initially had reason to believe that Smith was in the country illegally, but it was later discovered that the detainer calling for his detainment was wrongly issued. Smith’s criminal lawyer explained how the suspect currently has a pending application for a green card. Although he originally hails from Jamaica, Smith has had permission to work in the United States since 2015. He has held the same occupation for nearly three years, and Smith is currently married with three children. His wife and children are all legal citizens of the United States.
The arrest of Smith immediately set off an unorganized protest outside of the courthouse. Over 100 different employees from the Legal Aid Society and public defenders joined together to protest the unfair arrest. Protesters explained how ICE agents will wear plain clothes and sit in during cases held at the Bronx courtrooms. When immigrant’s cases are heard, the ICE agents will inform other officers waiting outside of the building to detain the suspects as they are leaving court. These actions discourage immigrants from reporting crimes, and it also makes them feel unsafe when attending court.