Associated Press (New Jersey)
April 19, 2017
TRENTON, N.J. — Another high-ranking judge on Wednesday asked the Trump administration to avoid immigration arrests at state courthouses.
New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner noted in a letter dated Wednesday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that federal immigration officials recently arrested two people in New Jersey courthouses. The arrests could cause witnesses to stay silent or domestic abuse victims to avoid court, Rabner said.
“A true system of justice must have the public’s confidence,” he wrote.
Rabner wants Kelly to add courthouses to a list of sensitive locations — like houses of worship and schools — recognized by immigration officials.
He went on to say that for years state officials have cooperated with federal detainer requests, but said the practice of publicly arresting suspected immigration violators “sends a chilling message.”
The letter comes after California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye issued a similar request last month. Cantil-Sakauye wrote in her letter that “stalking undocumented immigrants” hinders their access to justice.
Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have defended the practice, saying visitors to courthouses are typically screened for weapons. They also took issue with use of the word “stalking.” Rabner’s letter didn’t include similar language.
Rabner didn’t include more details on the arrests. A message left with Immigration and Customs Enforcement wasn’t immediately returned.
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