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LA Times: Arresting Immigrants at Hospitals, Schools, Courthouses Is Counterproductive

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

A woman in El Paso showed up at a courthouse last month seeking protection from an abusive spouse. Instead, she was arrested by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and slated for deportation. In a Pasadena courthouse, a defendant was snatched from his attorney’s side and whisked away for deportation.

President Trump’s supporters may cheer on the ICE agents in these cases — after all, he won the White House in part by promising to crack down on illegal immigration. But as the government itself has recognized, it is both heartless and counterproductive to arrest people on immigration violations as they engage with the fundamentals of civic life: taking children to school (remember: children here illegally are entitled to attend public schools under the Supreme Court’s 1982 Plyler v. Doe ruling) or going to church or seeking treatment at a hospital. Under the Obama administration, ICE adopted a formal policy of avoiding arrests in such “sensitive locations.”

Courthouses, however, were wrongly excluded from the list of sensitive locations. On Thursday, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, asked the government to keep ICE agents away from courthouses, which, she said, “should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country’s immigration laws.” The ACLU, noting countless cases around the country in which ICE has interrogated and arrested people as they sought to pay for traffic citations, appear for court hearings as witnesses, get married or obtain restraining orders in domestic violence cases, said the practice “obstructs the ability of immigrants to access the courts” and “endangers public safety.”

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