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Immigration Law

ICE Can't Block NY Suit Over Courthouse Arrests

Josh Russell, CNS, Dec. 19, 2019

"A federal judge skewered the Trump administration Thursday in advancing a lawsuit over the 1,700% increase in civil arrests that New York courthouses have seen as the government flouts a centuries-old tradition of common-law privilege.

“Courts cannot be expected to function properly if third parties (not least the executive branch of the government) feel free to disrupt the proceedings and intimidate the parties and witnesses by staging arrests for unrelated civil violations in the courthouse, on court property, or while the witnesses or parties are in transit to or from their court proceedings,” U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote Thursday.

In seeking to dismiss the suit, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement argued, “first, that it is none of this court’s business and second, that even if it is, the common law privilege against courthouse arrests doesn’t apply to ICE,” Rakoff explained.

Calling both arguments meritless, Rakoff ruled that modern-day immigrants are just as entitled to the privilege against courthouse arrests as the people for whom the standard was made hundreds of years ago by English and American courts.

“According to the facts here alleged, ICE’s Directive undermines this purpose by deterring immigrants from appearing in court, thus denying them an opportunity to seek justice in their own cases and impeding civil suits and criminal prosecutions by dissuading them from serving as witnesses,” Rakoff wrote."