Federal judge bans ICE agents from arresting illegal immigrants as they enter or leave Massachusetts courthouses because the practice was stopping defendants and witnesses from showing up

Friday, June 21, 2019
By Paul Martin

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani handed down decision on Thursday
Federal agents won’t be allowed to arrest suspects arriving to or leaving court
Migrant advocates say arrests are deterring people from appearing in court

21 June 2019

A judge on Thursday blocked federal immigration authorities from arresting certain people suspected of living in the country illegally at Massachusetts courthouses while a lawsuit challenging the practice plays out.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani’s decision bars U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from arresting people for civil immigration violations as they are arriving at, leaving or inside a courthouse.

The ruling came in a case brought by prosecutors in two of Massachusetts’ largest counties and public defenders, who say such arrests are disrupting the criminal justice system because defendants, witnesses and others are too afraid to come to court.

‘This is a really significant victory,’ said Oren Nimini of Lawyers for Civil Rights, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit.

‘It’s good protection for immigrant communities in Massachusetts, but also a good message to immigration authorities who have been running rampant over people’s civil rights over the last two years,’ he said.

John Mohan, an ICE spokesman, said in an email that the agency is reviewing the court’s decision and has no further comment.

Courthouse arrests have angered lawyers, immigration advocates and even some judges, who want ICE to make courthouses ‘sensitive locations’ generally free from immigration enforcement.

While such arrests happened under President Barack Obama, lawyers say they’ve seen an uptick under President Donald Trump.

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