ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday condemned what he called a “reckless and unconstitutional” raid on an upstate dairy farm by federal immigration officials and threatened to sue the Trump administration.
Cuomo was joined at a news conference by John Collins, a farmer in Rome who said Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers entered his property last week without a warrant, hauled away one of his employees and, when Collins tried to record what was happening, threw away his mobile phone and handcuffed him.
The incident sparked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to call last week for an investigation of ICE’s actions. Cuomo followed that by sending a “cease and desist” letter to ICE threatening to sue for its “serious disregard for the rule of law.”
Cuomo said, “I think it’s time the state stood up to ICE.”
“When you destroyed [Collins’] property, personal property, when you put him in handcuffs, you violated his constitutional rights,” Cuomo said at the news conference. “They violate the constitutional rights of American citizens every time they enter property without a valid warrant . . . And we’re going to put them on notice today that if they continue, the state will sue them.”
Days after the raid, federal officials told newspapers in Utica and Syracuse that they arrested a Guatemalan man who had a criminal record and had been deported previously.
They indicated ICE officers had a warrant — but did not address allegations about failing to display it. They also didn’t address the handcuffing of Collins.
ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan said in a statement that Cuomo was “grandstanding” and had “insulted” federal officers.
“In each targeted enforcement action . . . ICE officers acted professionally and within their legal authorities under federal immigration law,” Homan said. “ICE will continue to protect New York communities against public safety and national security threats and it is false and offensive for the Governor to say otherwise.”
Homan didn’t address whether agents displayed a warrant or handcuffed Collins.
Cuomo, who is facing a challenge in a Democratic primary for governor, said ICE’s actions were “feeding” off President Donald Trump’s “anti-immigration” policies.“We deport all the illegal immigrants and then we put up a wall and America will be great again,” Cuomo said, referring to Trump’s vow to build a wall along the southern border and force Mexico to pay for it. “That was the fantasy they sold in the campaign.”
Cuomo’s actions drew a sharp response from a Trump ally.
“This guy is out of control,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) wrote on Twitter in response to the governor’s announcement. “King Cuomo actually believes that the law is whatever he says it is.”