Thursday, December 13, 2018

Retired Judges: End ICE Arrests at Courthouses


As the Associated Press reports, "Dozens of retired state and federal judges called [yesterday] on U.S. immigration officials to stop making arrests at courthouses of people suspected of being in the country illegally, saying immigrants should be free to visit halls of justice without fearing they will be detained. Nearly 70 former judges from 23 states — including federal judges and state supreme court justices — said in a letter sent to Acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Ronald Vitiello that courthouse arrests are disrupting the criminal justice system."

The letter begins:

"As former state and federal judges, we write to express our concern about Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) continued reliance on immigration enforcement activities inside courthouses. We know firsthand that for courts to effectively do justice, ensure public safety, and serve their communities, the public must be able to access courthouses safely and without fear of retribution. For many, however, ICE ’s courthouse arrests have made courts places to avoid.

We welcomed ICE ’s clarification of its courthouse arrest policy in January, but that policy provides only qualified assurances that ICE will limit arrests to particular individuals or locations and makes clear that ICE officers will continue to operate inside courthouses. Following nearly two years of high profile ICE courthouse activity, only unequivocal guarantees and protections will restore the public ’s confidence that it can safely pursue justice in our nation’s courts.

As you continue your tenure as Acting Director of ICE, we urge you to restore that confidence by adding courthouses to ICE’s list of `sensitive locations,' thereby assuring officers will refrain from courthouse enforcement activities except in exigent circumstances."

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School helped organize the letter, whose signers include judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican governors. Here is the Brennan Center's news release.


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