American Judges Association
Recent Changes in Federal Policy Will Decrease Immigration Arrests at State and Local Courthouses
Date of this Version
Court Review - Volume 57
Changes in the policies and procedures of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) enacted in early 2017 increased the number of enforcement actions by federal immigration officers in state and local courthouses across the U.S.1 Many court leaders expressed concerns about the negative impacts of the arrests on the public’s access to justice. Several state supreme court chief justices wrote letters expressing their concerns in letters to federal immigration officials. The Conference of Chief Justices established a special workgroup to study and document the incidents and their impacts on the courts and created a mechanism and process for communication between state court leaders and ICE officials. While ICE eventually adopted a new courthouse enforcement policy, incidents in and around courthouses continued.2 Lawsuits challenging the policies were filed in multiple federal courts. Some states revised court rules and enacted laws to ban immigration arrests in court-houses. The closing of almost all courthouses in the U.S. in 2020 due to the pandemic brought a practical end to the conflict, although efforts to challenge the policies continued.
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