“Knock it off,” is what California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in her letter to the Trump administration, this after a recent spate of arrests by immigration officials at multiple courthouses around the country.
Cantil-Sakauye previously accused immigration officials of targeting undocumented immigrants at trial courts, using the courthouses as staging grounds to detain unsuspecting migrants waiting for the results of their hearings.
Most recently, the Cantil-Sakauye fired off a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, pointing out that, “Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws.”
“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,” she added.
Cantil-Sakauye is referring to recent raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at and around courthouses, which have been reported by immigration attorneys in California, Texas, Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona. The chief justice lamented how these arrests only serve to shake the people’s faith and trust in the judicial branch of government.
The California chief justice, who was appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is fast becoming one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest critics, and her actions are encouraging other state judges to voice their criticisms of the administration’s recent immigration actions.
In her State of the Judiciary address on March 27, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye argued how the administration’s immigration crackdown was challenging the rule of law.
“We are living in a time of civil rights unrest, eroding public trust in our institutions, economic anxiety, and unprecedented polarization. Our values, our rules and our laws are being called into question, and all three branches of government and the free press are in the crosshairs,” she said.
Although judges usually stay out of political squabbles, Cantil-Sakauye is concerned how the ICE raids at courthouses would discourage victims of crimes and witnesses from testifying in hearings. Further compounding the issue is President Trump’s remarks against federal judges who are opposing the raids, which the chief justice said undermine the judicial branch of government.
In response to these criticisms, Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a statement, saying courthouse arrests happen “only after investigating officers have exhausted other options” and “every effort is made to take the person into custody in a secure area, out of public view, but this is not always possible.”
The agency, however, did not comment on Cantil-Sakauye’s letter to Secretary Kelly.
It should be noted that while controversial, ICE’s actions are not against its directives, as it does not consider courthouses as sensitive locations. According to ICE guidelines, the agency avoids conducting operations in schools, hospitals, churches, and ceremonies.
If you are involved in an immigration case in any kind of way, it’s important to be appraised of your rights. Contact the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.