Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced his support last week for a lawsuit that would halt the federal immigration arrests of illegal immigrants in and around state courthouses across the country.
Ellison and a coalition of 14 state attorneys general filed an amicus brief Friday in support of a lawsuit filed by the state of Washington against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s December 17 lawsuit asserts that courthouse arrests are “unlawful and unconstitutional.”
Ferguson claimed that immigration authorities have arrested hundreds of immigrants in or near courthouses in Washington and said these arrests have not been limited to dangerous criminals.
“If immigration officials can demonstrate that their courthouse arrests only target dangerous criminals, I will drop this lawsuit,” Ferguson said in a statement. “But they won’t do that because they can’t. The federal government has arrested many people who are simply trying to access justice for themselves or their families. That’s illegal, it makes us all less safe, and it needs to stop.”
Ellison and his colleagues assert in their amicus brief that the federal government’s practice of courthouse arrests violates the Administrative Procedure Act, the Tenth Amendment, and the right of access to courts, which is protected by several constitutional amendments.
“The legitimacy of our entire judicial system rests on people’s trust that they will be treated fairly no matter who they are, with no exceptions. It rests on people’s trust that courthouses are places where justice is impartially administered, not where fear is deliberately sown,” Ellison said in a statement. “With its warrantless arrests in the courthouses of our state and states across the country, the Trump administration has knowingly violated that trust. As Minnesota’s chief legal officer and the people’s attorney, I cannot stand by and watch it happen. Today I’m supporting the fight to stop it.”
His office further claimed that courthouse arrests of illegal immigrants disrupt court functions, trample the due-process rights of the accused, imperil public safety, and deter immigrants from reporting crimes.
The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to issue a preliminary injunction to immediately halt the practice. In a similar case, a judge in Massachusetts recently issued an injunction that blocks the practice of courthouse arrests in the state.
Friday’s amicus brief was led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and supported by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
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