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Friday, November 22, 2019

AG Barr: ICE Can DEFY Courtroom SANCTUARY Policies In The States

In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, foreign nationals are arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles. (Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP) **FILE**
In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, foreign nationals are arrested during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) aimed at immigration fugitives, re-entrants and at-large criminal aliens in Los Angeles. (Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP) **FILE**


Stephen Dinan

Attorney General William P. Barr pleaded with the chief justices in Oregon and Washington on Thursday not to adopt sanctuary policies for their courthouses, saying the states are already releasing enough dangerous illegal immigrant criminals onto their streets without adding more to the tally.
Mr. Barr, in a stern letter, pointed to several recent cases out of the Seattle area where gang-connected illegal immigrants stand accused of vicious murders, including one where a popular high school teen was pummeled to death with a bat then chopped to pieces with a machete.
And he warned that ICE officers and Border Patrol agents are free to make arrests in public areas of courthouses, suggesting the two states’ attempts to expand their sanctuary policies to cover courtrooms will have limited effect.
“Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, such rules cannot and will not govern the conduct of federal officers acting pursuant to duly enacted laws passed by Congress,” he said in the letter, which was also signed by acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad F. Wolf.
Their letter is the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between the Trump administration, which wants to more strictly enforce immigration laws, and anti-Trump local officials who want to defy that enforcement by announcing safe spaces where they won’t let U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement do its job.
In this case, Oregon’s Supreme Court has adopted a policy precluding ICE officers from making arrests of illegal immigrants on the property of the state’s courthouses. Washington state is pondering a similar move.
They are siding with immigrant-rights activists who say witnesses might be scared into not showing up for important criminal trials if they fear they might be arrested by ICE.
Homeland Security officials dismiss such scenarios, saying when ICE officers go into the courts they aren’t on fishing expeditions, but rather have particular targets in mind — either criminals or fugitives who have lost their immigration court hearings yet are defying deportation orders.
ICE does have a policy of not making arrests at hospitals, schools and churches. But the agency says courthouses are actually good places to make arrests, since those inside have already gone through security and there’s no chance of an armed encounter between an officer and an unruly illegal immigrant.
Besides, they say, when someone on trial is released by the local officials at the courthouse, it makes sense for ICE to be on hand to pick them up, rather than go out into the community to try to track them down later, where armed resistance is more likely — and where ICE officers are also likely to find other illegal immigrants in the vicinity to arrest and deport.
Sanctuary city supporters say they will cooperate when ICE has a judicial arrest warrant signed by a federal judge.
But Mr. Barr and Mr. Wolf, in the new letter, say that’s a misunderstanding of how the immigration system works. They say federal law allows for an administrative warrant to detain and arrest illegal immigrants, and that’s what ICE officers carry with them.
“Administrative arrest warrants while civil in nature are issued based on probable cause, carry the full authority of the United States, and should be honored by any state or local jurisdiction,” they wrote.
Mr. Barr’s signature on the letter with Mr. Wolf is significant.
During the Obama administration, ICE had wanted to make a similar joint stand against sanctuary cities, but then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. refused to join in, siding with the anti-ICE localities instead.
A similar courtroom sanctuary fight is playing out in Massachusetts, where a federal judge ruled in June against ICE being able to make arrests, upholding a state law.
Judge Indira Talwani, an Obama appointee to the court, acknowledged it may be safer to make arrests at the courthouse, but she said that wasn’t enough to justify allowing them.
She said federal law doesn’t specifically authorize courthouse arrests on civil warrants or detainers, the government cannot abrogate those existing strictures.
Mr. Barr and Mr. Wolf did not address the Massachusetts situation in their letter.
Massachusetts is also the site of another fight over a local judge facing federal alien harboring charges after she let an illegal immigrant leave out the back door of the courthouse to avoid ICE officers she knew were waiting to make an arrest in the public area of the courthouse.

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