After judge indicted for helping illegal escape, Mass. D.A.s sue to keep ICE agents out of courthouses

After judge indicted for helping illegal escape, Mass. D.A.s sue to keep ICE agents out of courthouses
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A lawsuit filed in Massachusetts seeks to stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from arresting illegal immigrants at courthouses.

A coalition of prosecutors, public defenders and other immigration activists filed a lawsuit Monday over ICE arrests at courthouses, arguing the practice has made illegal immigrants afraid to appear in court at all. The results, they argue, make it more difficult to prosecute criminals and conduct other court business.

“Prosecutors are forced to abandon cases because many victims and witnesses are deterred from appearing in court. The policy also makes it more difficult to obtain defendants’ appearance[s] in court,” Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, both Democrats, wrote in a joint statement Monday.

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“To the extent that the practices of ICE in apprehending them while they are coming, going, or exercising and conducting their business in the court has chilled their right to do that — that is an assault on our justice system. It is one which cannot continue,” Ryan said during a Monday press briefing.

The lawsuit, which is claimed be the first of its kind in the U.S., is viewed as the most recent spat between federal immigration authorities and progressive officials at the more local level. The lawsuit also comes just days after a Massachusetts judge was indicted for allegedly helping an illegal immigrant escape arrest from an ICE agent.

Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph and court officer Wesley MacGregor were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday for allegedly helping an illegal alien, wanted for drunk driving, escape through a back door and avoid an ICE agent who was waiting nearby to detain him in 2018. The judge and court officer have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice for their actions.

Critics argue such courthouse apprehensions have increased under the Trump administration. The White House, however, argues courtrooms make for safe arrests because visitors usually have to pass through a metal detector, making a deadly encounter less likely. (RELATED: ICE Announces Plan To Stop ‘Fake Families’ And Child Smuggling At The Border)

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson criticized the people behind Monday’s lawsuit.

“Shame on the elected officials and pro-illegal advocates for filing this frivolous lawsuit, which seeks to make it more difficult for federal law enforcement officers to apprehend criminal illegal aliens,” the sheriff stated Monday. “As elected officials swore to protect the people who put them in office, or as U.S. citizens who want their neighborhoods and families to be more safe, these district attorneys and advocates should be working with law enforcement instead of partnering with criminal illegal immigrants.”

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