Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye wrote a letter to top Federal agents asking that they stop arresting undocumented immigrants on their visits to the courts. She expressed her concerns that the practice will negatively impact the public’s view of the legal system. The letter was penned to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well as to John Kelly, who serves as Homeland Security Secretary.

 

It is her belief that these individuals come to the courts for help and are willing to go through the channels necessary for getting that help. It is her position that the legal system should not take advantage of their unfortunate situations by arresting them because they lack documentation of citizenship. It is an issue that affects the public in general, not just those who are arrested.

 

Journalist of the Year, Joy Ann-Reid asked her panelist and Trump surrogate to not use the term “illegals” while speaking with her. She felt it was disrespectful to those individuals and noted her parents came here as immigrants.

 

“Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws,” stated Cantil-Sakauye. She noted that crime victims including domestic violence victims and witnesses who support their cases are included in the groups of individuals who may be targeted. Recently, a woman in El Paso, Texas was arrested when she went to court to obtain a protection order from her abuser.

 

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The LA Times noted that in the last several weeks, ICE agents have been stalking courthouses and making arrests as undocumented individuals attend court hearings. This has occurred in California, Texas, Arizona and Colorado. ICE officials state they only set out to make courthouse arrests as a last resort.

 

ICE agents are apparently deterred from making arrests in what are considered “sensitive” places such as places of worship, schools, and hospitals, but this does not include courthouses. “The chilling impact that [it] has on an entire community is devastating,” stated George Gascon, District Attorney of San Francisco. He expressed concern that arresting these individuals in court will only deter them from coming, and that will negatively impact the prosecutor’s ability to do their job.

 

Maybe the time has come to review our processes of how individuals become legalized in this country. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has all of the resources and information for individuals to find out about the steps to take. There are several different steps and they do not all apply to every situation. Immigrants will likely need assistance in finding out the correct forms they need to file and the costs associated with filing them. The forms are often free, but filing them is not.

 

These individuals often do not speak English well, and may or may not have access to the internet. They are often not aware that free information exists. Rather than rip families apart by deporting them, we should look at ways to help non-violent, non-lawbreaking undocumented individuals achieve naturalization in the U.S. It is an issue that deserves another good look from the president to decide how to effectively proceed.

 

What do you think of people being surprised at courthouses and arrested by immigration officials? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter @lcarterwriter.