Panic at NYC School When Immigration Agents Drive on Sidewalk — But They Just Wanted Lunch

Kerry Burke and Ben Chapman, New York Daily News, March 7, 2019

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A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer caused a kerfuffle Thursday by parking his official truck on the sidewalk in front of a public school — then crossing the street to get lunch with another officer in the predominantly Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights.

The first officer left his marked immigration enforcement vehicle on the sidewalk directly in front of the Castle Bridge School with a dog inside, while another officer parked his marked vehicle on a street adjacent to the school and left it running, school staffers and parents said.

The two officers then decamped for a burger and a chicken pot pie, respectively, at Coogan’s pub across the street from the school. Meanwhile, Mexican immigrant Juan Martinez, who operates a candy stall on the corner where the two parked, fled on foot at the sight of them, fearing a raid. Another undocumented vendor on the same block in the largely immigrant neighborhood did the same, he said.

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The incident caught the attention of Washington Heights City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who in his initial tweet about the incident incorrectly identified the officers as members of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — better known as ICE.

“This is totally unacceptable. They should be out. Abolish ICE,” Rodriguez wrote on Twitter.

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Castle Bridge School principal Julie Zuckerman said she was alerted to the immigration vehicles at her school by a nervous parent.

She quickly tracked the agents down at Coogan’s and asked them to move the truck parked in front of the school. Federal immigration agents are not permitted at public schools under city guidelines.

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“It’s outrageous, clearly, and an abuse of power,” she said.

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