In accordance with a policy change announced on Tuesday by the Biden administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will no longer be allowed to make routine arrests at courthouses.
As KTLA 5 reported, the previous practice of civil immigration arrests at courthouses under President Trump had “…a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement,” according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
President Trump’s Immigration Arrest Policy
In 2018, the Trump administration finalized a policy that allowed ICE agents to enter state, federal, and local courthouses to make arrests. Although an ICE directive stated agents would only enter a courthouse for specific targets, like gang members or convicted criminals, it left “special circumstances” open to interpretation. The Obama administration also allowed for courtroom arrests by immigration arrests, but under President Trump there was an approximate 40% increase in arrests.
The New ICE Courthouse Arrest Policy: Is It Enough?
Under Biden’s new policy, ICE is still authorized to make arrests at courthouses in limited scenarios: if the person is perceived as a threat to public safety, if it is a matter of national security, if there is reason to believe the person will destroy evidence pertaining to a criminal case, or if the person is the subject of an active pursuit.
According to Mayorkas, the goal of the new policy is to balance the “fair administration of justice” with immigration enforcement. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, some believe it should go even further. Senior advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, Naureen Shah, called for the Biden administration to make more sweeping changes, claiming that the exceptions pertaining to national security and public safety were too broad. She urged for the removal of immigration authorities from courtrooms as well as the limitation of their presence at schools, hospitals, and in aiding law enforcement with deportation.
For more information and to discuss your immigration case with an attorney, give our firm a call at (800) 909-8129 or contact us online. We’re here to help.