After Judge’s Arrest, Massachusetts Prosecutors Sue to Stop Courthouse Arrests of Immigrants

From Governing Magazine By Steph Solis:

Days after a judge and court officer were arrested on charges they helped a man evade immigration authorities, advocates are filing a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s practice of arresting people at local courthouses.

The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office announced a group of prosecutors, public defenders and community groups plan to file a lawsuit on Monday over courthouses arrests, arguing the arrests deter victims and witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement on local criminal cases.

“Prosecutors are forced to abandon cases because many victims and witnesses are deterred from appearing in court. The policy also makes it more difficult to obtain defendants’ appearance[s] in court,” District Attorney Marian Ryan wrote in a joint statement with Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins.

District Attorney Rachael Rollins told her staff to notify her office if they see immigration agents arresting or questioning people inside courthouses, but what happens after?

Lawyers for Civil Rights Director Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Immigration Impact Unit Director Wendy Wayne and Chelsea Collaborative Executive Director Gladys Vega also signed onto the joint statement.

An announcement will be made about the lawsuit at 11 a.m. Monday at Goodwin Procter’s Boston office.

Public defenders, local prosecutors and immigrant activists began voicing concerns about ICE agents making arrests at local courthouses after President Donald Trump took office. Thomas D. Homan, then acting director of ICE, issued a directive in January 2018 stating that courthouses are fair game for immigration enforcement, unlike schools, churches and hospitals, which are considered “sensitive locations” under ICE policy.

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