N.J. Chief Justice Urges ICE to Add Courthouses to List of “Sensitive Locations”
In a recent letter, New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner requested that DHS Secretary Kelly urge ICE not to arrest individuals who show up for court appearances in state court. The chief justice said that courthouses should be added to the list of “sensitive locations” outlined in a 2011 ICE enforcement memo. That memo extends the principle of “sensitive locations” to schools, hospitals, houses of worship, and public demonstrations. Chief Justice Rabner noted: “A true system of justice must have the public’s confidence. When individuals fear that they will be arrested for a civil immigration violation if they set foot in a courthouse, serious consequences are likely to follow. Witnesses to violent crimes may decide to stay away from court and remain silent. Victims of domestic violence and other offenses may choose not to testify against their attackers. Children and families in need of court assistance may likewise avoid the courthouses. And defendants in state criminal matters may simply not appear. To ensure the effectiveness of our system of justice, courthouses must be viewed as a safe forum. Enforcement actions by ICE agents inside courthouses would produce the opposite result and effectively deny access to the courts.” We couldn’t agree more.