Christmas decorations still hang in the apartment of Eved Sanchez and his wife, Edith, in the Stapleton section of Staten Island. She says they planned to take them down this weekend, and prepare for the birth of their first child.
But all that changed with a knock on the door Wednesday.
Edith asked NY1 not use her last name or show her face for this report.
“We didn’t know what was happening and then I decide to come ask who was it and they say, ‘We are doing an investigation,’ and they say, ‘We want to come in and check if this man is in your house,’” Edith says.
She says the man at the door identified himself as a police officer, said he was looking for a man named Luis, and flashed a photo of someone she did not recognize. Aware of her rights, Edith asked him to leave.
He did, but 30 minutes later, after Edith and her husband left their home so she could drive him to work, the officer was waiting for them down the street, she says.
The man was an agent with ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“They say, ‘Get out of the car right now. Right now, get off of the car,’” Edith says. “And I was in shock. I was asking, ‘Why he has to get off?’ I was asking my husband not to get off and he was like ... don’t complicate the problem."
Eved entered the country illegally six years ago, putting himself at risk of being detained by ICE.
But Edith says officers never produced a warrant for him, and only showed her a document with the date of a scheduled court appearance.
The Staten Island District Attorney's Office confirmed Sanchez does have an open case against him for a DWI arrest in August. He was expected to answer the charge at a court appearance next month.
Such cases were not a priority under President Obama, but they are under President Trump.
As a so-called sanctuary city, the NYPD is supposed to notify ICE only when an undocumented immigrant is convicted of a violent crime.
Advocates say the arrest raises questions.
“These are ICE agents coming to our communities’ homes indicating that they’re police officers, indicating that they’re looking for somebody and not having any sort of warrant, not having any sort of reason for coming to the home,” said advocate Yesenia Mata. “They are just coming to people’s homes violating their rights.”
ICE confirms to NY1 Sanchez is in custody and faces deportation. The agency declined to answer questions about whether agents followed procedures in arresting him and about how it knew of his DWI charge.