[JURIST] In an open letter [text] issued Thursday, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye [official profile] asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official websites] agents to stop following undocumented immigrants to courthouses in order to make arrests. In her letter, addressed to Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly [official profiles], Cantil-Sakauye stressed what she believes to be the importance of separation of power between federal, state and local government to the rule of law. She also argued that, regardless of expediting of their efforts, such actions by ICE agents serve to undermine public confidence in the state court systems and may incline them to believe these institutions are being used to facilitate other goals and objectives of the federal government. Cantil-Sakauye stated
As officers of the court, we judges uphold the constitutions of both the United States and California, and the executive branch does the same by ensuring that our laws are fairly and safely enforced. But 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. They not only compromise our core value of fairness but they undermine the judiciary’s ability to provide equal access to justice.
She concluded by asking that the government to refrain from using such tactics.
The Trump administration’s approach to the status and treatment of undocumented immigrants has become a controversial topic. In January the US House of Representatives passed a funding bill [JURIST report] that included amendments designed to repeal key elements of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In February Kelly issued [JURIST report] two memoranda to direct the department to begin implementing executive orders concerning immigration laws. Also in February Chief Magistrate Judge James Donohue of the Western District of Washington ruled [JURIST report] that a Mexican immigrant-detainee must be granted a bail hearing. Earlier this week an attorney and his client were walking out of a California courthouse when ICE agents surrounded [LAT report] the client in the hallway of the courthouse to arrest him. Attorneys in Arizona, Texas, and Colorado have also reported instances of having their clients arrested in courthouse hallways and in courtrooms. Numerous attorneys and judges are criticizing such tactics.