The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of making "grandstanding" and "inaccurate" comments Wednesday after armed agents raided an upstate dairy farm last week and allegedly handcuffed a man who tried to record an arrest.
Cuomo, a Democrat rumored to be a contender for the party's 2020 presidential nomination, said that the agency "is violating the law and endangering public safety" and threatened to sue ICE if such raids continued.
"The reckless and unconstitutional practices ICE is deploying in our communities violate everything we believe in New York and are an assault on our democracy," Cuomo added. "I demand ICE immediately cease and desist this pattern of conduct, and if they fail to do so, I will pursue all available legal recourse and commit to doing everything in my power to protect the rights and safety of all New Yorkers."
In response, ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan said Cuomo's remarks were "an insult to ICE's sworn law enforcement officers who conduct their lawful mission professionally and with integrity."
"Since September 2016, ICE has arrested nearly 5,000 criminal aliens in New York," Homan added, "individuals with a criminal conviction in addition to their violation of immigration laws.
"Many of these arrests were conducted at large in the community, which ICE is increasingly forced to do due to sanctuary policies in the state that prevent us from taking custody of criminal aliens in the secure confines of a jail," Homan went on. "[Cuomo] supports these policies at the expense of the safety of the very same communities he took an oath to protect."
John Collins, who owns the Rome, N.Y. farm that was raided, claimed that ICE agents did not identify themselves or produce a warrant before they arrested a farm worker on charges that he unlawfully re-entered the U.S. following deportation. Collins, who said the worker has proper documentation to work in the U.S., said the officers grabbed his phone and threw it — destroying it — when he used it to videotape the arrest. Collins said they slapped handcuffs on him as well.
In his statement, Homan identified the worker as a "criminal alien" named Marcial DeLeon-Aguilar, who "is a three-time prior deportee who has felony criminal convictions for reckless aggravated assault and illegal re-entry -- also a felony."
The incident has also prompted scrutiny in Washington, where Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has called for an investigation.
"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 concluded.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.