Federal Appeals Court Overturns Ban on Immigration Arrests in Massachusetts Courthouse

According to a report from Boston.com, a federal appeals court has overturned a previous ruling that barred Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from making civil immigration arrests at courthouses in Massachusetts.

Two of the top prosecutors in Massachusetts are vowing to continue the fight to protect immigrant rights and our communities. Here, our Boston deportation defense lawyer provides an overview of the court’s ruling and explains what happens next.

A Judge Previously Barred ICE From Civil Arrests In Massachusetts Courthouse

In 2019, U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani blocked all civil immigration arrests at courthouses in Massachusetts. In that initial decision Judge Talwani found that the federal immigration enforcement agency’s practice of conducting civil arrests of people arriving to and leaving courthouses was interrupting the justice system.

The court notes that ICE was scaring away victims, witnesses, and defendants—thereby making it difficult to hold people accountable. While federal immigration officials have long conducted enforcement operations at courthouses, advocates observed that the practice increased dramatically in the early days of the Trump Administration.

Reversed: Appeals Court Says ICE has Statutory Authority

On September 1st, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a decision in favor of ICE. In reversing the lower court’s decision, the federal appeals court found that ICE has the statutory authority to conduct enforcement operations at sensitive locations, including in state and local courthouses. The court noted that such a policy may not be wise, but that, under current law, it believes that ICE has the authority to continue the practice.

The Fight is Not Over: Boston’s Top Prosecutor Will Push Forward

Two of the top prosecutors are committed to fighting the practice. As Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in response to the decision, “the fight is not over.” Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan is also prepared to challenge the practice in order to create a more just society. There are still active discussions on how to best proceed. The decision may be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The bottom line is that courthouse arrests impede justice in the Commonwealth. Local communities in Massachusetts should be able to operate open and fair courts. If undocumented immigrants are too afraid to access the court system, justice will be denied. It hurts immigrants, their families, and our community as a whole. Too many victims and witnesses are denied their day in court because they are worried about draconian federal immigration enforcement.

Call Our Boston, MA Deportation Defense Lawyers for Immediate Assistance

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our Massachusetts immigration attorneys have the skills and tenacity to defend people facing deportation. If you or your loved one received a removal notice, you need a strong attorney on your side. We are here to protect your rights. Call our Boston office now for a confidential initial consultation. We represent clients throughout the entire region, including in Cambridge, Brockton, Scituate, Salem, Quincy, Weymouth, and Waltham.