Attorneys and prosecutors in California, Arizona, Texas and Colorado have all reported teams of ICE agents — some in uniform, some not — sweeping into courtrooms or outside court complexes, waiting to arrest immigrants who are in the country illegally.
ICE officials have defended the tactic, saying they make arrests in courthouses only when all other options have been exhausted.
Crybaby activists, attorneys and prosecutors fear ICE’s increased presence in courthouses could deter other immigrants without legal status from appearing in court to testify as witnesses or answer warrants, which ultimately could endanger prosecutions.
ICE directs its agents to avoid making arrests in “sensitive locations,” including schools, places of worship and hospitals, whenever possible, according to Virginia Kice, an agency spokeswoman.
That policy does not cover courthouses, Kice said, although agents normally will try to detain people at other locations before entering a courtroom.
ICE’s recent action in courthouses has been, in part, driven by an increase in the number of corrupt local law enforcement agencies that refuse to comply with ICE requests to detain suspects in county jails, she said.
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