ICE Chief Orders Agents to Target Criminal Aliens Visiting Courthouses

ICE arrests in Dallas
File Photo: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The head of U.S. immigration law enforcement issued a new directive this week ordering immigration officers to target criminal aliens appearing in courthouses across the country. The move is seen by some as a slap against sanctuary jurisdictions where officers are not allowed to pickup up illegal aliens in the safe confines of a jail.

A new directive released this week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials calls for targeting criminal aliens in courthouses anywhere in the U.S. Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan signed the order on January 10.

“Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials routinely engage in enforcement activity in courthouses throughout the country because many individuals appearing in courthouses for one matter are wanted for unrelated criminal or civil violations,” Director Homan wrote in the police directive. “ICE’s enforcement activities in these same courthouses are wholly consistent with longstanding law enforcement practices, nationwide. And, courthouse arrests are often necessitated by the unwillingness of jurisdictions to cooperate with ICE in the transfer of custody of aliens from their prisons and jails.”

Homan contends that the refusal by local law enforcement officials in sanctuary jurisdictions puts his officers in danger.

“The State of California wants to put politics ahead of public safety,” Homan stated in an interview on Fox News in January. “What they’ve done is force my officers to arrest dangerous criminals on their turf — in their homes and their place of business — rather than arresting them in the safety and security of a county jail.”

The director said the sanctuary policies of California and other jurisdictions put officers and the public at risk. “When you release a public safety threat back into the public, it’s just a foolish decision.”

During the Fox News interview, Homan threatened to have officials in sanctuary jurisdictions charged with violating federal law.

“I think we charge some of these sanctuary cities with violating federal law,” Homan responded. He continued, saying the DOJ needs to “hold these politicians personally accountable. More citizens are going to die because of these (sanctuary) policies. These politicians can’t make these decisions and be held unaccountable for people dying.”

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon took exception.

“I will tell you right now unequivocally, I will not cooperate,” the California DA told a reporter from KPIX5. “I will not sign any agreement and I want to make it very clear to our community that they will be safe when they come to us.”

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauyey responded to the ICE policy in a written statement reported by KPIX5. It reads, in part: “If followed correctly, this written directive is a good start. It’s essential that we protect the integrity of our state court justice system and protect the people who use it.”

The policy directs agents to focus on targeted criminal aliens only (with certain exceptions which must be approved by supervisors).

The policy states:

ICE civil immigration enforcement actions inside courthouses include actions against specific, targeted aliens with criminal convictions, gang members, national security or public safety threats, aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States but have failed to depart, and aliens who have re-entered the country illegally after being removed, when ICE officers or agents have information that leads them to believe the targeted aliens are present at that specific location.

Aliens encountered during a civil immigration enforcement action inside a courthouse, such as family members or friends accompanying the target alien to court appearances or serving as a witness in a proceeding, will not be subject to civil immigration enforcement action, absent special circumstances, such as where the individual poses a threat to public safety or interferes with ICE’s enforcement actions.

The guideline calls for deportation officers to use the “non-public” areas of the courthouses whenever possible and to avoid situations that might ” unnecessarily alarming the public.”

Director Homan has rapidly increased pressure on criminal aliens and gang members who are illegally in the U.S. In January 2017, Homan came under fire for saying illegal aliens should “be afraid” under the Trump administration during his testimony before Congress.

Following a speech at the Central American Prosperity and Security Conference in June 2017, Homan stood behind his comments and told a CNN reporter, “It needed to be said. And by me saying you should be worried, you should be afraid–if you lie on your taxes, you’ve got to be worried, ‘Is the IRS going to audit me?’ … When you speed down the highway, you’ve got to worry, ‘Am I going to get a speeding ticket?’ You worry. It’s natural human behavior.”

During a border security expo in San Antonio, Texas, Homan again doubled down, the Huffington Post reported. “I’ll never back down on those words. If you violate the laws of this country, if you enter illegally―which is a crime―it’s not going to be OK anymore.”

Homan took the opportunity to criticize leaders in sanctuary communities.

“When they’ve seen what we’ve seen, then they can have an opinion,” Homan told the immigration agents and officials in attendance. “Until then, we’re going to enforce the law without apology. And I’m not going to stop talking.”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGAB, and Facebook.

ICE Policy Regarding Enforcement Actions in Courthouses


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