ITHACA, N.Y. — Few new details are available regarding the downtown Ithaca arrest of two people by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday.

Khaalid Walls, regional director of communications for ICE,  again confirmed in an emailed statement Friday that two people were taken into custody from the Taste of Thai restaurant Tuesday and are still in custody.

He said in an email, “They are charged with immigration violations.”

Walls has declined to release more information about the incident. A Freedom of Information Law request has been filed with ICE in hopes of revealing more information.

According to Carlos Gutierrez, a Tompkins County Workers’ Center employee who handles immigration issues, two people were taken into custody around noon Tuesday while they were working at the restaurant. A worker at the restaurant told him that both of the people were loaded into a large white van and taken away.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said the Ithaca Police Department was contacted by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday to say they would be in Ithaca, but did not specify what they were doing, when, or that it was immigration related.

This is at least the second time in less than a year that ICE has taken someone into custody. Jose Guzman-Lopez was taken into custody by ICE in early May while he was walking down Cascadilla Street.

At the time, multiple local police officers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that in at least the past 10 years of working at IPD, none of them could recall an instance where a person was taken into custody by ICE.

Reports have indicated that officials are targeting sanctuary cities as locations to arrest undocumented immigrants as a new federal administration cracks down on deportations of people.

Related: Explaining how, why an undocumented immigrant was arrested by ICE in Ithaca

Gutierrez added that there are steps people can take to help people taken into ICE custody.

Taste of Thai on the Ithaca Commons. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice
Taste of Thai on the Ithaca Commons. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

For instance, in case of an emergency or recent arrest, people can call the Tompkins County Immigration Rights Coalition Rapid Response Network at 607-358-5119. It’s recommended that people try to provide as much information as possible, such as the exact location of the detainment, name of the person taken into custody, arresting officer’s name or badge number, and licence plate number of any vehicles at the scene (not all the listed information is required to get assistance from the network).

Gutierrez also said that people can contact the Tompkins County Workers’ Centerat 607-269-0409 for help.

Gutierrez is in touch with several immigration lawyers in Buffalo, which is not far from the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia where local immigrants are often held in custody. After gathering basic information about the incident, Gutierrez said he hands the information off to the lawyers.

He said the workers’ center also provides training and resources to employers about what their rights are as business owners if ICE shows up to arrest somebody.

Featured image by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Department of Homeland Security), via Wikimedia Commons.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.