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Winter 2018

ICE Courthouse Arrests Undermine Democracy

In an op-ed in the New York Times on November 27, César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández ’07 expressed concerns about the rising number of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests of immigrants at courthouses, where they are dealing with matters unrelated to their legal status.

“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,” wrote Hernández, an associate professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and publisher of the blog crImmigration.com.

“With no change to federal policy in sight, it is up to cities and states to push back,” he continued. “Elected officials must take seriously their legal obligation to keep courthouses accessible. In addition, the cities and states that own and operate most courthouses and ensure that no one uses their courts in a way that halts judicial business—protesters can’t block the doorway, bail bondsmen aren’t allowed to set up shop in the lobby—should do the same here for immigration agents.”

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