Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) January 10, 2018 – Expanded immigration enforcement at courthouses, set in motion by the Trump administration, has had a chilling effect on noncitizens seeking access to justice, according to a report published by The Fund for Modern Courts.
The report, published December 5, 2017, details the impact of arrests carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in state courthouses in New York. ICE has begun targeting state courthouses as locations for enforcement actions, leading to an increase in the arrest rate and a significant impact on noncitizens seeking justice, the report says.
“While to ICE arresting a person ordered removed when that person himself or herself is seeking justice at a courthouse on an unrelated matters appears to have a certain ironic twist, there is a larger societal value at stake,” said Stewart Rabinowitz, a Dallas immigration attorney with the law firm of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. “What if a foreign national ordered removed who was a witness to a crime against a citizen does not appear in court out of fear, or who as a victim of a crime will not file a police report out of fear? How are the rest of us all safer if wrongdoers can get away with their crimes? Courthouses are sensitive locations and ICE should not arrest persons ordered removed at courthouses absent urgent circumstances.”
According to estimates by New York’s Office of Court Administration, ICE has arrested about 50 people in New York courthouses, with most of those arrests taking place in New York City. The Immigrant Defense Project reported 101 incidents throughout New York State as of October 30, 2017, including 90 arrests and 11 attempted arrests. The Fund for Modern Courts noted that while the number of arrests is relatively small, the arrests are having a documented impact on immigrant communities where there have been reports of witnesses refusing to appear in court to testify and victims unwilling to report crimes.
The Fund for Modern Courts asserts that courthouses should be safe places for all people. The organization recommends that the federal government designate courthouses as “sensitive locations” where arrests are generally not to take place.
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