Last week, the chief justice of New Jersey’s Supreme Court ordered Garden State judges to further limit the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest illegal immigrants in courthouses across the state.
The alleged purpose of the May 23 directive, in the words of New Jersey State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, is to protect “the effectiveness of our system of justice” by ensuring courthouses are “viewed as a safe forum” for witnesses and “criminal defendants.”
If individuals “fear” arrest for civil immigration violations, argued Rabner in a 2017 letter to then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly requesting ICE cease courthouse arrests, “serious consequences” will follow,
Those consequences, he says, would be that “defendants in state criminal matters may simply not appear” in court. It is hard to believe that not having ICE present would convince an otherwise reluctant defendant to show up in court.
Besides showing an uncomfortable level of concern for the peace of mind of criminal defendants, Rabner’s appears to miss two important points.
First, courts are public places, so ICE is well within its right to make arrests. Second, one of the reasons why there is any need to make arrests in a courthouse is because of the failure of sanctuary jurisdictions to cooperate in the transfer of custody of illegal aliens from prisons or jails to ICE officers.
In fact, ICE predicted the likelihood of increased courthouse activity after New Jersey State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal rolled out the Immigrant Trust Directive last November.
Portrayed as an initiative to promote public safety by building trust with local police, Grewal’s directive placed restrictions on local law enforcement from engaging with federal authorities in immigration operations.
“The probability is that at-large arrests and worksite enforcement operations, which already exist, will likely increase due to the fact that ICE ERO will no longer have the cooperation of the jails related to immigration enforcement,” ICE spokesman Emilio Dabul stated to NBC’s local affiliate.
New Jersey is not an isolated case.
Last month, New York issued a directive requiring ICE officers to present a federal judicial warrant or an order from a state judge prior to making an arrest. In Massachusetts, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins on April 29 joined a lawsuit on filed by activist groups to prevent ICE from making arrests in courthouses statewide. The case is currently being argued.
In New Jersey and in other sanctuary jurisdictions, courthouse arrests are likely to increase not by ICE’s choice, but out of necessity. The disaster waiting ahead is two-fold.
First, by further restricting ICE’s ability to detain and arrest criminal illegal aliens in areas where criminal illegal aliens are not armed (courthouses, jails and prisons), the chances increase that a criminal will be armed and endanger innocents.
Second, by hampering ICE, the odds are greater that criminal aliens will remain on the streets where opportunities to harm the public abound.