US immigration agents arrested two illegal aliens at a Northern California courthouse this week, ignoring a new state law requiring a judicial warrant to make immigration arrests inside courthouses.
The ICE agents reportedly nabbed one of the individuals in the hallway as he was heading to a hearing, the AP reported.
The arrests, which were made on Tuesday at Sonoma County Superior Court, prompted an immediate outcry from liberal criminal justice and court officials who complained that ICE was undermining their authority.
ICE maintained, however, that California’s law doesn’t supersede federal law and “will not govern the conduct of federal officers acting pursuant to duly-enacted laws passed by Congress that provide the authority to make administrative arrests of removable aliens inside the United States.”
“Our officers will not have their hands tied by sanctuary rules when enforcing immigration laws to remove criminal aliens from our communities,” David Jennings, ICE’s field office director in San Francisco, said in the statement.
California is one of several states that have passed laws to push back on a Trump administration policy introduced two years ago to make immigration arrests inside courthouses. Last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law to prohibit immigration arrests at courthouses without a warrant issued by a judge.
The arrests in Sonoma County came days after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced the agency will participate in ICE’s escalating immigration enforcement across the country in jurisdictions with sanctuary policies such as California and San Francisco.
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, Public Defender Kathleen Pozzi and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin condemned the arrests for undermining public safety.
Boudin, who won a tightly contested race for district attorney in San Francisco last November, is the son of Weather Underground domestic terrorists Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert. The pair were convicted of felony murder for their role in the Brinks armored car robbery at the Nanuet Mall, in Nanuet, New York in October of 1981.
One of Boudin’s key campaign promises was to protect illegal immigrants from deportation.
Pozzi lamented in an interview with the Press Democrat that ICE’s move is “going to put total fear in the community.” She added: “People aren’t going to come to court. Victims will refuse to show up. Witnesses will refuse to show up … cases will have to get dismissed.”
ICE said both men were criminals and had been repeatedly arrested by immigration officers in the past and returned to Mexico.
In one of the arrests, a Sonoma County public defender and an investigator confronted an ICE agent leading a 37-year-old man to an unmarked law enforcement vehicle, demanding information about the affiliation of the agent, who wore no uniform, and the name of the man being taken away, Pozzi said. The man was detained in a second-floor hallway of the courthouse before he could attend his court hearing, she said.
His lawyer, private defense attorney Martin Woods, said his client was a carpenter who was expecting to resolve his criminal case Tuesday. The man had been arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence and misdemeanor drunken driving and had since been trying to take responsibility for the incident, Woods said.
In the other case, a witness said “a federal agent in plainclothes confronted a man in the parking lot, at first putting out his hand as if offering a handshake then grabbing the man’s elbow before unzipping his own jacket to reveal a federal law enforcement badge,” according to Pozzi.
Immigration agents have in recent days been pushing back against sanctuary policies in liberal states.
— ICE (@ICEgov) February 19, 2020
— ICE (@ICEgov) February 19, 2020
— Conservative.in.NE (@FrankTheTank814) February 14, 2020
“I would like to thank the Justice Department for their continued support of ICE, Acting Director Matthew Albence said in a statement earlier this week. “Recent state and local policies have placed politics above public safety by limiting cooperation with ICE, resulting in criminal aliens being released back into our communities to re-offend.
It’s disappointing that a federal law enforcement agency must resort to subpoenas & lawsuits to mitigate these dangerous policies. ICE will continue to use every tool available to enforce the laws passed by Congress to keep our country safe.”