Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are targeting courthouses to arrest illegal immigrants, reports James Queally, of the LA Times.
As President Trump’s political platform promised, ICE agents have ramped up their efforts to rid the nation of illegal aliens.
According to Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman, there are several reasons ICE agents have turned toward courthouse arrests. “In years past, most of these individuals would have been turned over to ICE by local authorities upon their release from jail based on ICE detainers.
“Now that many law enforcement agencies no longer honor ICE detainers, these individuals, who often have significant criminal histories, are released onto the street, presenting a potential public safety threat,” Kice added.
Another reason is the tactical advantage. In courthouse arrests, suspects must pass through metal detectors when entering the building and are therefore unarmed when arrested, Kice said.
Courthouse arrests have been reported by attorneys and prosecutors in California, Arizona, Texas, Oregon and Colorado, Queally reported.
Although ICE agents are directed to avoid making arrests in sensitive locations such as schools, hospitals and places of worship, prosecutors have felt a backlash effect, Kice said.
Denver City Attorney Kristi Bronson said she had to dismiss the prosecutions of four separate domestic violence cases when the complaining witnesses didn’t appear to testify out of fear of being arrested.
California’s Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has even written a letter to the Trump administration urging them to stop ICE from stalking the state’s courthouses to make arrests. “Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws. Enforcement policies that include stalking courthouses and arresting undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom pose no risk to public safety, are neither safe nor fair,” Cantil-Sakauye wrote.
Another negative impact that’s been seen across the country is an erosion of trust between minority communities and local police departments. ICE agents are even posing as police to make arrests, a tactic that activists view as unethical, reports Queally.
Although court officials have no authority over ICE agents or their investigations, that didn’t stop three judges in the Los Angeles Superior Court from ordering their staff to alert them if ICE agents were seen in their courtrooms, said an official that requested anonymity, reported the article.