States Look to Ban ICE From Arresting Immigrants in Courthouses
Stories are everywhere about ICE officials nabbing or detaining suspected immigrants in places that the immigrants have to, or need to be. Health clinics, hospitals, relief centers after a disaster, and courthouses unfortunately cannot be avoided for most people living in this country. When immigrants go to these facilities, they often risk being detained by ICE.
Oregon Fights Back
One state is fighting back against this practice. Oregon’s state Supreme Court has ordered that Customs Enforcement is forbidden from arresting people for immigration matters inside of state courthouses, absent proof of a valid warrant.
The federal government does not necessarily have to abide by the new rule, immigration being federal law, and federal law having precedent over any state laws. However, there is no word as to whether ICE will comply with Oregon’s new rule. The federal government could prosecute any state official that tries to defy its enforcement attempts.
ICE In Courthouses
More and more, ICE is turning to courthouses to arrest or detain immigrants. Many of these immigrants go to the local courthouse to serve as witnesses, to pay traffic tickets, or to take care of tax matters. Because local law enforcement agencies are refusing to comply with ICE’s policies, ICE has found an easier target: staking out courthouses and waiting for immigrants to appear there.
ICE officials have been known to appear in local courthouses wearing plain clothes, undercover, in an attempt to snare immigrants. In some cases, the agents are just engaging in racial profiling, grabbing anyone who looks like they are from a Latin country.
Oregon contends that it is not trying to obstruct ICE’s efforts—rather, the Court noted that ICE often will arrest individuals who are appearing to be sentenced for criminal infractions, or ICE will detain people who are there to serve as crucial witnesses in cases. As such, the Oregon court explained, allowing immigrants into the courthouse without fear from arrest, helps the state administer its legal system.
Oregon also explains that areas like courthouses and schools should be places where people can enter safely, without fear of prosecution or detention.
There are incidents where people accused of crimes are rightfully and dutifully showing up for criminal proceedings, only to be detained by immigration officials. In another incident, a man ran outside of a courthouse, fleeing ICE officials, only to be hit by a car.
Other States Starting to Ban ICE
Oregon isn’t alone—it is one of a number of states, including California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico and Washington—that have banned or restricted ICE from conducting activities in or around state courthouses. Connecticut has gone farther, enacting a law that prohibits detaining people solely because of immigration status no matter where they are.
If you are concerned with an immigration matter or are worried about ICE activities, get legal help now. Contact the Palm Beach County immigration attorneys at Devore Law Group to help you with your immigration questions.