November 27, 2017

WHAT DOES FAIRNESS HAVE TO DO WITH RACISM?

ICE's Courthouse Arrests Undercut Democracy (César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Nov. 26, 2017, NY Times)

At the door of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver one Friday in April, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents tackled a man to the ground. A chilling video shows the man -- who, according to his lawyer, was there to deal with a traffic ticket -- yelling "No!" "My hand!" and "Why?" in Spanish. Sheriff's deputies order passers-by to stand back, and the violent arrest continues.

The next month, ICE agents returned and arrested another man. His lawyer can be heard in a video of the incident asking the agents if they had a warrant. One responds, "Yes, sir." The lawyer asks, "Can I see it?"

The agent's response: "No, sir."

Both men, according to their lawyers, were taken to immigration detention centers.

This type of arrest is on the rise. Lawyers and judges in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington all reported in the first year of the Trump administration that immigration officials were breaking with tradition to descend upon their courthouses. Such arrests in New York have increased by 900 percent in 2017, according to the Immigration Defense Project.

This is a deeply worrisome trend because arrests at courthouses don't just derail the lives of the unsuspecting people who are detained, they threaten the very operation of our judicial system. Such arrests scare people away from the courts, keeping them, for example, from testifying at trials or seeking orders of protection. By using this tactic, the nation's lead immigration law enforcement agency is undermining a pillar of our democracy.

That's why California's top judicial official asked the Trump administration to stop this practice. "Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country's immigration laws," Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the state's chief justice, wrote in March to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John F. Kelly, then the homeland security secretary. "Enforcement policies that include stalking courthouses and arresting undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom pose no risk to public safety, are neither safe nor fair."

Posted by at November 27, 2017 12:49 PM

  

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