Are courthouses becoming bait for undocumented immigrants?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2017 | US Immigration Law

When President Donald Trump requested that federal immigration agents step up deportations, arrests have significantly increased. However, a prominent judge is taking issue with the strategies employed in tracking down and arresting undocumented immigrants.

The chief justice of the California Supreme Court considers the use of courthouses as de-facto “bait. “ The tactics only thwart access to justice for victims of crime and domestic violence who want justice and due process of the law.

In a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye requested that agents end the practice. She expressed concern that it negatively impacts the public’s confidence in the court system.

The communication comes after multiple arrests at courthouses in California, Oregon and Texas.

In February, a woman who was seeking a protection order against an alleged abuser was arrested at an El Paso courthouse. The story began to spread nationally, sparking an outcry from victim’s advocates concerns that fear of removal would come before the fear of domestic violence.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims that it focuses on what is safest for officers and the community. When determining the location of an arrest, courthouses are a last resort after homes, work addresses, and all other options are exhausted. Agents also consider courthouses as safe places for agents to make arrests because the people they detain pass through metal detectors.

In addition, federal agents see their options as limited due to local law enforcement who take immigrants into custody no longer turn them over.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California praised Cantil-Sakauye’s letter. Several years ago, the ACLU also raised concerns about deportation agents making arrests at courthouses in Kern County. At the time, ICE said it would refrain, unless certain challenges exist.