Tensions between New York City and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement further erupted on Thursday when an ICE agent reportedly shot 26-year-old Eric Diaz in the face as ICE was trying to arrest his mother’s boyfriend, Gaspar Avendano-Hernandez.
ICE had issued a detainer request against Avendano-Hernandez, an allegedly undocumented Mexican man, after New York police arrested him on Monday for allegedly driving with a forged Connecticut license plate. As a sanctuary city, New York only requires officials to turn over individuals convicted of violent and serious offenses, so NYPD released Avendano-Hernandez. ICE agents arrived at the house in the south Brooklyn neighborhood of Gravesend just after 8 a.m. on Thursday without uniforms or a warrant. Kevin Yañez Cruz, Diaz’s brother, told WABC that Avendano-Hernandez resisted because the agents didn’t show any badges or documentation. After the agents tasered Avendano-Hernandez, his girlfriend’s two sons went to see what was happening. ICE said that this is when two agents were attacked. The exact details of the altercation are somewhat unclear, but an activist with the New Sanctuary Coalition told the Washington Post that officers pepper-sprayed Diaz, who was unarmed, before shooting him.
“He pointed the gun at [Diaz] and didn’t even hesitate and pulled the trigger,” Yañez Cruz told WABC. He also told NBC New York that the bullet penetrated Diaz’s cheek and exited through the back of his neck.
Federal authorities are now investigating the incident, which left Diaz, Avendano-Hernandez, and the two ICE agents in the hospital. Diaz is in critical but stable condition, NBC New York reported. At least seven ICE cars arrived at the hospital, and Diaz and Avendano-Hernandez may be under ICE custody in the building.
According to the Consulate General of Mexico in New York, Avendano-Hernandez arrived in the U.S. legally last week with a valid tourist visa, WABC reported. ICE said that the agency had no indication of the visa and that Avendano-Hernandez had already been deported twice. Diaz also arrived in Brooklyn last week on a visitor visa.
The shooting sparked protests in the city, which involved around 200 people throughout the day, according to the Washington Post. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams spoke at the protests.
Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized ICE for “creating havoc,” WABC reported, and said that “it can’t be part of their game plan to go and shoot someone who wasn’t the person they were trying to pick up.” House Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez and Jerry Nadler wrote a concerned letter to ICE demanding answers.
The gulf between New York and the Trump administration’s policies toward immigration continues to widen. According to the Associated Press, ICE has become increasingly frustrated over the past few weeks with New York City’s unwillingness to comply with most of its detainer requests. This week, the legal battle around the city’s sanctuary policies escalated. In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Trump attacked sanctuary cities and described the “tragedy” of New York City in graphic terms. On Wednesday, the administration suspended the Global Entry Travel Program in New York in retaliation for New York state’s so-called Green Light Law, which lets undocumented residents get driver’s licenses.
On Thursday, New York officials said that ICE tried to blame the police for the incident, highlighting the extent of these hostilities.