Federal Court Says ICE Can No Longer Enter New York Courthouses Just To Arrest Alleged Undocumented Immigrants

from the why-isn't-ICE-abolished-yet? dept

Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York isn't one to suffer the federal government's many fools. Five years ago, Rakoff resigned from the DOJ's rigged forensics committee -- one supposedly formed to tell the DOJ what it was doing wrong when analyzing and testifying about forensic evidence. Rakoff received a personal call from the DOJ's Deputy Attorney General who told him the Commission would not be examining the handling of pre-trial evidence. In other words, the Commission could not make any recommendations about disclosures about means and methodology used by forensic investigators to defendants prior to trial. Rakoff resigned, calling out the government for its "trial by ambush" practices.

More recently, Judge Rakoff demanded to know why every single one of the DEA's 179 reverse sting operations targeted minorities. The stings involve the DEA telling targets a shipment of drugs is coming in and how to intercept it. There are no real drugs arriving and the DEA swoops in to arrest people for attempting to make off with nonexistent drugs. It then uses the imaginary amount of drugs to recommend prison sentences. Somehow, the fake amount always clears the bar needed to demand a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence.

Judge Rakoff is back and he's still angry. He's been handling litigation over ICE's nasty practice of camping out at courthouses to arrest people for immigration violations. ICE figures this is a great place to find people because they're compelled to show up. Immigration agents aren't just picking up accused criminals. They're also hauling off witnesses and crime victims. (h/t Courthouse News Service)

The lawsuit was filed by the New York State Attorney General, who sought an injunction blocking ICE agents from trolling state courthouses for undocumented immigrants. ICE has been blocked, and Judge Rakoff wastes no time excoriating the agency for its actions. From the opening of the decision [PDF]:

Recent events confirm the need for freely and fully functioning state courts, not least in the State of New York. But it is one thing for the state courts to try to deal with the impediments brought on by a pandemic, and quite another for them to have to grapple with disruptions and intimidations artificially imposed by an agency of the federal government in violation of long-standing privileges and fundamental principles of federalism and of separation of powers.

The ruling points out ICE never used to be this way. But Trump's Executive Order, released shortly after he was elected, gave ICE the idea its earlier reluctance to look completely evil was going to limit its ability to aggressively pursue the foreign baddies the US president clearly wanted removed. Arrests at New York state courthouses leapt from 28 in 2016 to 161 in 2017. In 2019, the total was 173 arrests.

The judge says ICE has been completely disruptive to the judicial process.

Plaintiffs have also submitted substantial evidence indicating that these arrests, in addition to their impact on litigants, undermined the orderly functioning of New York courts themselves. Because ICE arrested aliens as they were entering court for scheduled proceedings, the agency forced courts to adjourn proceedings at the last minute, wasting scarce judicial time and resources. Similar results occurred when ICE failed to produce a criminal defendant for a scheduled conference. Even worse were those occasions when ICE conducted an arrest in the courthouse itself, resulting in “complete chaos," as well as physical damage, Finally, ICE further undermined the interests of justice by arresting and deporting criminal defendants who were appearing in court in connection with their own cases, thereby ensuring that these defendants never faced justice for their crimes.

After discussing the Executive Order and previous laws governing ICE enforcement activities, Judge Rakoff says there's nothing in any of it that suggests it's lawful to interrupt court proceedings to perform arrests for civil violations, much less prevent crime victims and witnesses from participating in the justice system.

[F]or all the reasons previously explained, courthouse civil arrests are not lawful, because they contravene the common-law privilege, which the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act] is best read to incorporate, that protects courts and litigants against these intimidating and disrupting intrusions. Regardless of what ICE may have believed, then, the Executive Order in fact did not compel the agency to undertake its vast broadening of the scope of courthouse arrests. To the contrary, by its use of the term “lawful,” it effectively forbade such unlawful intrusions.

These arrests are illegal, Judge Rakoff says. And ICE has offered nothing in defense of its increased presence in state courtrooms that says otherwise.

[ICE] has effectively offered no rationale other than its misguided reliance on the Executive Order for its consequential decision to expand its agents’ authority to conduct courthouse arrests. Although the Directive itself makes conclusory references to the “reduce[d] safety risks” of conducting arrests in a place where people are screened for firearms, and the “unwillingness of jurisdictions to cooperate with ICE in the transfer of custody of aliens from their prisons and jails,” the record contains no explanation of how the agency balanced any such benefits against the harms of the policy discussed above.

ICE is now frozen -- blocked from entering New York courtrooms to grab potential detainees. Rakoff says the policy -- as enacted by ICE since 2017 -- is illegal. It not only prevents ICE from entering courtrooms to effect arrests but also prevents ICE from detaining people traveling to state courthouses as parties or witnesses to civil lawsuits. ICE will probably appeal this because it seems to believe inflicting misery is part of its directive, but, for now, it will have to limit itself to raiding dozens of other places to grab people suspected of civil violations.

Filed Under: courthouses, deportation, ice, immigration, jed rakoff, new york, undocumented


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Daydream, 19 Jun 2020 @ 3:43am

    ICE is completely abolished in America.
    BUT!
    You will always have an immigrant as your next door neighbour.

    Will You Press The Button?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 19 Jun 2020 @ 5:38am

    So Judge Jed has told ICE

    to Rakoff!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 5:53am

      Re: So Judge Jed has told ICE

      ... nice try by Judge Rakoff, but Federalism and States Rights died in 1865.

      The U.S. Federal Government completely dominates state governments in all but a few token respects.
      State governments are now merely de facto branches of the central government, in direct contradicion to the Constitution.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 6:46am

        Re: Re: So Judge Jed has told ICE

        This is what ignorance looks like.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 7:28am

        Re: Re: So Judge Jed has told ICE

        State governments are now merely de facto branches of the central government

        The thing about courthouses is, they operate by de jure rules, not de facto ones. All those jure-ists in them, I suppose.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 7:44am

        Re: Re: So Judge Jed has told ICE

        Oh, this argument again. The civil war was not about states' rights; it was about slavery.

        As proof, here is an excerpt from Confederate VP Alexander Stephens' Cornerstone Speech:

        Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

        Sorry, but it was all about slavery. There are countless other founding documents of the Confederacy that say as much. Selective reading of history and disingenuous interpretations don't make it any less shameful. In fact it brings shame on you for trying to whitewash history and make virulent racists and slave owners out to be some kind of freedom fighters.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 1:08pm

          Re: Re: Re: So Judge Jed has told ICE

          I think I first ran across if via Stephen, but who ever coined the name definitely nailed it by pointing out that it shouldn't be called the 'civil war', it should be called 'the war to preserve slavery', because that ultimately was what the south was fighting for, and the war deserves to be named to match.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 19 Jun 2020 @ 6:03am

    Now let's add teeth

    Just need to add to the standing order that any violations will result in immediate incarceration for a period of not less than the logarithm of 2 by the number of times the agent has violated the standing order days

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 19 Jun 2020 @ 6:58am

      Re: Now let's add teeth

      "logarithm" may sound scary but it's one of the slowest growing unbounded functions with a commonplace name that you can encounter in math.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 8:29am

        Re: Re: Now let's add teeth

        It seems he means use the logarithm merely as a constant not the function. The word "by" usually means multiplication so his formula would be either:

        1) log_10(2) d == 0.3 d or roughly 7.2 hours in jail for every day the order was violated

        or

        2) ln(2) d == 0.69 d or roughly 16.8 hours in jail for every day the order was violated.

        Kind of weird that he starting the penalty in hours, but at least the penalty increases the more the order is violated. Even better if the violations are counted for the agency as a whole instead of per agent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 9:56pm

      Re: Now let's add teeth

      ICE agents are not immune to arrest or prosecution for aiding and abetting the escape of a criminal. The fact they are deporting people for civil violations so that they cannot stand trial for misdemeanors or felonies is not a shield against prosecution.

      Since jailbreak charges can reach 20 years in prison, just enforcing existing laws would be all the teeth needed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 20 Jun 2020 @ 9:01am

        Re: Re: Now let's add teeth

        The fact they are deporting people for civil violations so that they cannot stand trial for misdemeanors or felonies is not a shield against prosecution.

        Being part of the DHS is though (de facto, not de jure).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 7:31am

    Nice little loophole he left there

    But he left them a loophole, and a nasty one at that. Now they just have to wait on the steps until their target comes out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 8:34am

      Re: Nice little loophole he left there

      It depends. If the steps are part of the courthouse estate, ICE should steer clear. But if the miscreants camp just a few inches away on public, non-court ground, how should the judge forbid it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 10:08am

    To say that there is no rationale for ICE agents intercepting illegal immigrants on the way to court proceedings isn't exactly true. In April 2019, Massachusetts judge Shelley Richmond Joseph was charged with aiding and abetting the escape of an illegal from her courthouse. ICE agents announced their presence before hand, and waited outside the courtroom for the proceedings to conclude. During the proceedings, the judge turned off the tape recorder against district court rules, had a discussion for 52 seconds before turning it back on, released the defendant from custody, had the defendant and attorney escorted out a back door, then lied about it later. If federal agents can't trust the judges to obey the law, taking defendants into custody before the proceedings seem to be the reasonable thing to do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TFG, 19 Jun 2020 @ 10:19am

      Re:

      A) Need a source.

      B) One instance does not excuse the flagrant disregard of the law by a federal agency. If judges cannot trust federal agents to respect the law, why should they give them any leeway at all?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 10:36am

        Re: Re:

        Either:

        A) you're more concerned about Canadians - the majority nationality of people coming to the US illegally
        or
        B) when you say you oppose "illegal" immigration you're trying to mask that by "illegal" you actually mean "brown"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 11:29am

      Re:

      As the case is still being litigated, it hasn't been shown that the judge acted illegally.

      She is accused, and at this point, considered not guilty. Don't get ahead of yourself.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 2:03pm

      Re:

      And this is why many refuse to testify, the crook goes free, rinse and repeat.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 2:20pm

      Re:

      "an illegal"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 9:58pm

      Re:

      ICE is not immune from aiding and abetting charges, nor is it immune from aiding escape charges. When they deport someone for a civil violation or even a misdemeanor and it causes that person to escape custody and trial for a felony, ICE has committed a felony too.

      Just as a cop cannot lawfully go down to the courthouse and release someone who is awaiting a felony trial, ICE cannot either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 12:58pm

    'Stop setting mines and razorwire on the steps.'

    If you set traps for anyone who shows up to court you incentive them not to show up to court, and while ICE would probably be perfectly fine if none of their targets ever saw the inside of a court room that they don't own both the judge and the legal system at large has a very good reason not to allow something like that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    restless94110 (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 2:03pm

    Huh?

    "it seems to believe inflicting misery is part of its directive, but, for now, it will have to limit itself to raiding dozens of other places to grab people suspected of civil violations."

    So illegally being in America is in your view a "civil" violation now? Wow. That's a weasel word if I ever read one.

    So, ICE is "inflicting misery" on law breakers convicted of crime?

    In other words, in your opinion, if serial murderer was in a New York Court, ICE should not be able to detain him (or her. or it)?

    And the reason? Because ICE should not be allowed to inflict misery on serial murderers?

    Double Wow! I love your pretzel-logic.

    What's next for you? Writing an opinion piece on other Kritarchy nonsense coming from judges who will rule that enforcing laws are inflicting misery on rapists, murderers, criminals who sneak into America?

    Perhaps, we could change our form of government to give judges ultimate power to rule. Forget our form of government. All that counts is that criminals are helped to evade the "misery" of arrest and deportation. That is all that matters.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 2:05pm

      Re: Huh?

      "I love your pretzel-logic"

      It shows

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 2:24pm

      Re: Huh?

      It was always a civil violation, that is, when anyone actually cared about it at all, which was pretty much not until WWII and still really not until the late 80s.

      Your a descendant of immigrants. Get over your "i got mine, fuck you" game.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 2:25pm

      Re: Huh?

      if serial murderer was in a New York Court, ICE should not be able to detain him

      Uh, no, they are supposed to go to prison, duh.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 20 Jun 2020 @ 12:31am

      You probably had a point somewhere in that post, but you seem to have lost it underneath all the veiled xenophobia.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jun 2020 @ 2:26pm

    Can't wait to see what happens when ICE ignores this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard M (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 4:39pm

    The real problem...

    The real problem with everything that Trump and his minions and cult followers have done is they have made the bar so low that even Presidents that before this would have looked horrible will now look good.

    How many times will we hear "Well at least he/she is not as bad as Trump"? Way too many over the next couple of decades.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 19 Jun 2020 @ 5:22pm

    My question is...

    Can they go into the courthouse to get coffee or take a bathroom break, and then arrest some immigrants?

    If so, it's a hollow imposition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.