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

This story was written by Reporters Jolene Almendarez and Kelsey O’Connor. 

ITHACA, N.Y. —The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed that an undocumented man was arrested in Ithaca Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement from Khaalid Walls, regional director of communications for the northeast region at ICE , he wrote, “ICE officers arrested one unlawfully present Mexican national today in Ithaca, following a routine targeted enforcement action. The action, in which that specific individual was sought, occurred without incident. He is currently detained at Buffalo Federal Detention Facility pending removal proceedings.”

Acting Police Chief Pete Tyler said IPD was not involved in the arrest and has not been in touch with ICE. But he said the department is adhering to Sanctuary City policies put in action earlier this year by Ithaca Common Council.

The City of Ithaca and Tompkins County have passed resolutions making both sanctuary communities. However, being a sanctuary city or county does not mean ICE cannot make arrests locally.

Legislator Anna Kelles who worked on the resolution to make Tompkins County a sanctuary county said the resolution, passed in February, is about non-compliance with the implementation of federal immigration law. She said it would be against the law to prevent ICE from coming to Ithaca or Tompkins County, something that has been a public misconception.

“There’s two things we can’t prevent,” Kelles said. “One we can’t prevent them from coming into Tompkins County. Tompkins County’s part of the country. Two, we cannot legally prevent anyone from voluntarily providing information that works for Tompkins County to the federal government .. which is why we specifically had that stipulation. But that’s also why we said we’re not going to collect the information on immigration status so we won’t have that information to offer when someone voluntarily wants to offer something. That’s how we walked that fine line.”

Related: Tompkins passes resolution ensuring ‘public safety for all’

Carolina Osorio Gil, director of Cultura Ithaca and board member at Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County, said an emergency rally is being held in support of the person taken into custody Tuesday.

The rally is happening at 5 p.m. at the Bernie Milton Pavilion in the Ithaca Commons. For more information about the incident, visit the Facebook event here. 

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

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.