Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly have defended federal agents who make immigration arrests at courthouses after California’s top judge asked them to stop, according to a letter released Friday.
Sessions and Kelly sent the letter Wednesday to California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, saying state and city policies barring local law enforcement from turning over suspects for deportation have compelled federal agents to arrest immigrants at courthouses and other public places.
Courthouses are a safe place for federal agents to make the arrests because visitors are typically screened for weapons, the letter says.
“While these law enforcement personnel will remain mindful of concerns by the public and governmental stakeholders regarding enforcement activities, they will continue to take prudent and reasonable actions within their lawful authority to achieve that mission,” it says.
The response comes amid a feverish debate nationwide over the relationship between local law enforcement and immigration officials. Many counties and cities have refused to collaborate with immigration authorities after President Donald Trump signed executive orders to step up deportations.