We’re seeing a theme in media coverage of deportations this month and much of it centers around whether or not ICE should be arresting illegal immigrants in or around courthouse grounds. The New York Daily News tossed out another grenade in the debate this week and they employ the increasingly common tactic of finding someone they view as being relatively benign to pose as the face of the illegal immigrant community which is currently “under attack” by Donald Trump’s administration. The subject of this story is Floyel Stapleton, an illegal alien from the Caribbean who was recently arrested while leaving a court appearance in Manhattan. And he’s not happy about it.
When Floyel Stapleton appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court for a routine hearing in his misdemeanor assault case, he was stunned to be met by federal immigration agents as he left the courtroom.
“I didn’t know they were there. They were in plain clothes. They had no badges and they arrested me when I was walking out of the courtroom. They just asked my name and they arrested me,” Stapleton, 39, who is from the Caribbean island of Nevis, told the Daily News from an immigration detention center in Hudson County.
“They are trying to deport me…The situation sucks.”
If you’re just skimming the top paragraphs of the story, Floyel comes off as a sympathetic character who was only at the courthouse for an appearance in a “misdemeanor assault case” (which can mean almost anything). You need to read quite a bit further into the story before learning that a representative of the Office of Court Administration (OCA) described Stapleton’s situation as “complicated” because of his long rap sheet.
I’ll say it’s complicated. I don’t know what the current assault charges relate to, but he’d previously been involved with the law for drug dealing and a domestic violence charge. Just to put a cherry on top of that saga, ICE had already taken him in and scheduled him for deportation in 2007, but the case was dropped for reasons which are not made clear. And now he’s in trouble again, being processed for deportation and has managed to enlist the press on his side to make it seem as if he’s the victim in the situation.
And all of this is being set up as a backdrop to an ongoing debate over whether or not ICE should be looking for illegal aliens in and around courthouses. I’ve been digesting all manner of stories coming from this argument and for the life of me I still can’t understand how this became an issue in the first place. There is nothing illegal about this, though it has been unofficial policy in the past to avoid enforcement encounters in such places where possible. But sometimes it’s not possible.
The activists trying to support illegal aliens like Stapleton certainly have the municipal government on their side. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is currently drawing up legislation to ban ICE from city courts. I can’t wait to see that one get challenged if she manages to get it passed. The courthouse is part of the law enforcement system. Are we seriously at the point where we’re going to ban law enforcement officers from a center of law enforcement? And all of this is in response to what the activists admit are somewhere between two and five instances where ICE made an arrest in the vicinity of a courthouse.
There’s some serious madness sweeping the nation right now and it has nothing to do with college basketball. Floyel Stapleton thinks this “sucks.” I’d have to agree, but probably for very different reasons.