Last week, ICE conducted a four-day immigration enforcement action called Operation “Safe City,” which focused on regions where deportation officers were denied access to jails and prisons or where ICE detainers were not honored. In their statement on the raids, ICE officials specifically mentioned Massachusetts, where the Supreme Judicial Court recently held, in Lunn v. Commonwealth, that honoring an ICE detainer would be tantamount to an arrest, and that no law in Massachusetts allows a law enforcement official to arrest someone without a warrant for an immigration violation, a civil offense.
Initial reports indicate that some of these arrests may have occurred in and around courthouses. There are serious, nationwide concerns, that increased ICE presence and enforcement actions in courts may chill undocumented victims and defendants from exercising their rights and deter witnesses from appearing. Given the potential access to, and administration of, justice implications, this is an issue we’ve been following closely. We even had the chance to discuss with our Congressional Delegation during our advocacy at ABA Day in April, and it was also on the minds of the ABA House of Delegates at their Annual Meeting in August. Be sure to watch this space for more updates!