Freezing Out Justice: How Immigration Arrests at Courthouses are Undermining the Justice System
Since the beginning of the Trump administration, immigration authorities have significantly increased their enforcement activities at courthouses - by 1,200 percent in New York in 2017 alone. Surveyed police officials, prosecutors, defenders and judges across the country believe that this practice has led to a decline in cooperation from immigrant victims and increased difficulties in investigating crimes and administering justice. Freezing Out Justice: How Immigration Arrests at Courthouses are Undermining the Justice System utilizes 2016 and 2017 survey data from the National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project and the ACLU on crime survivor participation in investigations and court proceedings to show how the increased enforcement undermines public safety and the judicial process. Twenty-two percent of police officers, for example, reported that immigrant communities were less willing to file police reports in 2017 than in 2016. According to the Denver City Attorney, 13 women dropped their domestic abuse cases due to fear of deportation after a video was released showing immigration enforcement officers in a courthouse waiting to make an arrest.
Despite concerns from law enforcement and judicial officials, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directed in 2017 and 2018 to arrest immigrants at court houses with a vague description of when to avoid making arrests there. To safeguard the fundamental rights of access to courts, due process and equal protection, the authors recommend adding courts to the list of sensitive locations exempt from immigration enforcement, passing federal legislation to limit and control arrests by ICE and Customs and Border Patrol at courthouses, and directing court personnel to facilitate enforcement only when required by a judicial order. (Jasmina Popaja for the Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute).
American Civil Liberties Union. (2018). Freezing Out Justice: How Immigration Arrests at Courthouses are Undermining the Justice System. Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/rep18-icecourthouse-combined-rel01.pdf