From behind the bench of her small courtroom on lower Broadway, Judge Terry Bain began to read.
In the second row of the gallery a young Chinese man in a white button-down shirt watched her carefully, his expression blank. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) had targeted him for deportation after he was caught in the United States without papers. He had argued that he could not return to China because village officials had beaten him until he was bruised and bloody for belonging to the banned religious group Falun Gong.
In a flat, emotionless voice, Judge Bain plowed through lengthy statutes and subsections cited in her ruling as she prepared to announce her decision. Finally she faced the young man whose fate was hanging in the balance.
“I am granting you relief,” she said, and signaled him to approach the bench and shake her hand. “Congratulations.”
The scene that played out in Bain’s courtroom has become increasingly common in New York City, as stepped-up federal deportation efforts clash with New York’s immigrant-friendly outlook.