A recent report issued by the Brennan Center for Justice details how states increasingly are fighting back against local courthouse arrests by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Courthouses traditionally have been “off-limits” for ICE to avoid having a chilling effect on the immigrant population in reporting crimes and seeking legal relief. Under the Trump Administration, however, this long-standing practice has come to an abrupt halt. ICE agents now lurk in hallways, sit in on court hearings, and question members of the public and staff members to identify and arrest undocumented immigrants. Whether they are victims in criminal proceedings, witnesses in civil cases, or people seeking protective orders for respite in a domestic violence situation, immigrants increasingly have to contend with the possibility that entering a courthouse will result in their arrest.
Judges, lawyers, and advocates nationwide have long protested the presence of ICE officers in courthouses. In 2019, court systems have taken more extensive steps to halt or reduce ICE arrests at or near the courthouse. For instance, most recently, the Oregon Supreme Court adopted a rule prohibiting civil ICE arrests inside or near courthouses without judicial warrants. As ICE officers typically utilize administrative warrants to carry out their civil arrests, the new rule has eliminated many such arrests.
Earlier this year, New York’s Office of Court Administration issued a directive that prohibited warrantless ICE arrests, as well. The chief justice of New Jersey stopped short of a prohibition on arrests without warrants. Still, he put into place various procedural rules to make judges and administrators aware when ICE has planned a courthouse arrest. In recent years, some municipal courts, including Seattle and Bernalillo County, New Mexico, have enacted rules designed to prevent warrantless ICE arrests.
An experienced Texas immigration attorney can help you with all aspects of immigration law. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and present your options. Finally, we can help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 399-2311 today and see how we can help.