March 16, 2017

Chief Justice to feds: stop using courthouses as ICE “bait”

In a strongly worded letter to the United States Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye — speaking in her role as head of California’s judiciary — expressed deep concern about reports that federal immigration agents “appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.”  The “vast majority” of those immigrants “pose no risk to public safety” and the courthouse arrest policies “are neither safe nor fair,” the Chief Justice said.  Rather, she said, those policies “not only compromise our core value of fairness but they undermine the judiciary’s ability to provide equal access to justice.”

According to the Chief Justice, the new courthouse stalking policies interfere with trial courts’ ability “to mitigate fear to ensure fairness and protect legal rights” for “millions of the most vulnerable Californians in times of anxiety, stress, and crises in their lives,” including “[c]rime victims, victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, witnesses to crimes who are aiding law enforcement, limited-English speakers, unrepresented litigants, and children and families.”

Stating that “[c]ourthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws,” the Chief Justice concluded by asking the Attorney General and Secretary to “refrain from this sort of enforcement in California’s courthouses.”

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