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Two DAs, public defenders sue to keep ICE out of local courthouses

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan joined today with public defenders to file a federal lawsuit that seeks to keep ICE agents out of state courthouses - such as Newton District Court, where a judge now faces federal criminal charges for trying to protect a man from an ICE agent waiting in the court lobby.

The DAs are being represented pro bono by the law firm of Goodwin Proctor in their suit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security.

In a statement, Rollins said:

Our criminal justice system can only function properly when people feel safe coming to court. When victims, witnesses, and defendants fear that entering a courthouse could place them at risk of immigration consequences, it prevents us as prosecutors from securing justice for the people we serve. Initiating a federal civil deportation prior to a criminal defendant being held accountable for the harm they caused in Suffolk County does nothing to serve the interest of justice or public safety. Instead, it creates an environment of fear and mistrust, and harms our entire community.

Wendy Wayne, Director of the Immigration Impact Unit at the Committee for Public Counsel Services - which provides public defenders - said:

Federal ICE agents have been regularly stalking our state courthouses in communities throughout Massachusetts for the last two years. When criminal defendants, witnesses and civil litigants are arrested by ICE before their cases are resolved or avoid the courthouses because of fear of ICE arrest, access to justice is denied for everyone.

Also bringing the suit: Lawyers for Civil Rights and the Chelsea Collaborative.

PDF icon ice-complaint.pdf292.96 KB


I've been reading back through some of the news reports of the Newton incident, and can't seem to find a clear statement of one detail which I though was in the articles Adam originally linked.

Was the subject of the Newton case (the alleged fugitive) in custody or not at the time of the courthouse incident? He was arrested on March 30, in court on April 2.

I share at least some concerns about predatory lurking by immigration enforcement intimidating or discouraging people from their due-process rights and from cooperating with local law enforcement & public safety.
So far as that specific case, however, there's a bit of difference between feds trying to nab somebody who's showing up for some local court business and feds showing up with papers on somebody the local authorities have in custody.


The lawsuit has no chance of winning and is an irresponsible use of public tax dollars.


Citations needed.


You missed the part where the DAs are being represented pro bono. Surely there's some right-wing, pro-ICE lawyer or legal group that would be willing to step in for ICE and save us more tax dollars?

If the lawsuit is as merit-less as you think, ICE can ask the judge to dismiss it on that basis and they'll do so. But that's only the case if the judge looks at the suit and decides that even if the plaintiffs' factual claims are true, they'd lose because there's no legal basis for the lawsuit.

Given that the DAs are practicing lawyers, I doubt it's that open and shut.

It almost sounds like the DAs are complaining that people in violation of the law need to be tracked down and apprehended. If only there were a federal agency tasked with the apprehension of people in violation of that particular set of laws.

Here comes the woke brigade to tell us all how national borders are immoral.


ICE is preventing the state from processing routine cases because their presence alone is intimidating defendants who may in fact be legally here.

Just go back to bed, Roman.




How does that even apply? Undocumented immigrants (or their forebears) generally aren't forced to come to the U.S. against their will and work in perpetual servitude without compensation. (Sure, you can probably come up with some counter-example like sex trafficking but that's not explicitly permitted like slavery was before the 1860s.)

A fugitive slave had to be returned to an owner. An undocumented immigrant gets returned to the country of his or her citizenship. They don't even have to stay there if they find another country willing to accept them.


If ICE continues to seize Massachusetts residents, I expect to eventually see local repetitions of events like this.

Good God, hyperbole isn't needed or helpful.

They shouldn't be there for local law enforcement proceedings. People complain about them not following laws but they're there actually complying with them and get punished for that. Believe it or not folks our economy runs on undocumented immigrants, including all the nice restaurants you eat at. The places that hate immigrants the most are the ones that need them the most which is super ironic. LOL


Many of the courthouses in Massachusetts are quite old and susceptiple to water stains. I really, like, think that ICE is much better off in a well regulated drinking establishment where they literally properly know how to mix a drink. ICE should be at Empire, Drink, or Hawthorne. It is so much more culture, especially as the weather gets warmer and after a nice soul cycle you want a refresher.



The Internet.

Learn when to stop the schtick, dude.


Oh Linda... don't ever change.


No idea what that pile of non sequitur meant.

"She" thinks it's cute.

the restaurants that employ illegals SHOULD BE CLOSED DOWN


If "illegals" were all removed from this country, you'd starve to death in a week.

These DA's do not seem to agree with ICE enforcement or federal immigration laws in general.

Just because you don't like a law, doesn't mean you choose to not enforce it, but Rollins doesn't seem to understand that. She should be working to change things through the legislator, DA's cant change laws.

DA's don't own courthouses, and short of a "no trespass" order, good luck keeping ICE from doing their job.

Enforce the law, not your personal opinion of it. I cant remember a DA before Rollins ever having so many issues with enforcing the law, it's your job Rachael, stop fighting it.


Since these are Massachusetts courts I will need you to cite the state immigration laws that you are accusing the DAs of not enforcing. Just like states and municipalities have no obligation to spend their resources doing ICE's work there are no immigration cases in those courts.


Nobody is asking them to enforce immigration law, and it's a good thing they aren't apparently, since their personal beliefs and bias is more important then the written laws they have been tasked to enforce.

Actively seeking to keep ICE agents from doing their jobs, as enforcing immigration laws is their job is a whole other thing, and that is what Rollins and Ryan are doing. Talk about a waste of resources - two prosecutors who have been hired to enforce and uphold the law are instead wasting time fighting against federal laws that they have a negative opinion of.

I don't care where you stand on immigration laws, it is not in the job description of a District Attorney to actively try to prevent federal law from being enforced in "their" courts.


I'm a bit backed up at work at the moment so I'd like to swing by and have you take care of that for me, thanks for being so generous.

Assuming you're the same anon commenter you've gone from criticizing state judges for not enforcing the law to "Nobody is asking them to enforce immigration law" in one step, you can't even keep your own argument straight.

I'm not sure what you're reading in my comments. I don't see anywhere that I offered to do anyone's work for them. Maybe we read things differently.

And as far as I can read in my comments, I never once mentioned a state judge, only the DA's (who this article is about). And yes, while DA's aren't technically "enforcing" federal immigration laws, they have no right to actively fight back against them, and work against fellow law enforcement/prosecution (ICE/Federal law).

I'm going to order a pair of criminal justice/immigration reform lenses for my glasses and see if I can read what you did in my comments, brb.

Stay for the misogyny!


For so long they've just tried to, ahem.. piggyback on state and local cops.

ICE is that kid in college everyone hated because he joined class groups just to copy off everyone else and put his name on presentations he didn't work on.


The number of deportees went up under Obama (though most people on the right would argue that fact despite the numbers being public record). They had a directive to go after the most dangerous illegal immigrants in those years. Trump wants the numbers to go up even more so that he can claim to be "tough" on illegals.

The problem is that there are two ways to get the numbers up the way he wants them. One is to double down on the difficult endeavor of locating more of the violent or dangerous undocumented immigrants in the country. The other is to go after low hanging fruit through exercises like random traffic stop & search efforts (they can do that anywhere within 100 miles of the US border) or snatching people when they have an appointment like this in another government agency. One method has a focus on public safety, the other is so that a narcissist can brag about a statistic. Then he will claim that the country is safer from the scary brown people because of those numbers despite the proportion of those who are actually dangerous getting a slight uptick because of that shift in focus.

Does it say how they plan to hand over wanted fugitives to ICE?

If they don't want it to happen in a court lockup they must have an alternative.
Or is that just up ICE to figure out?

yes, it is up to them to figure out.

you should be more worried that ICE is so incompetent that they demand other government agencies at the state and municipal level do their work for them.

They are not asking the State to do the job of Immigration enforcement, asking a State court to release a fugitive in the country illegally to an ICE Agent is called cooperation. Our law enforcment agencies run names through federal databases to see if other states have a warrant for someone in custody, and will hold someone if another State requests we do, That same cooperation is what ICE deserves.
How did American Immigration agents upholding laws passed by Congress get to be the bad guys in some people's eyes and a drug dealing drunk driver with 6 different ID''s who had been deported before and told not to return get to be the sympathetic one?


And if their detainers meant the same as warrants, we wouldn’t be here, but they abuse the whole process, and have few safeguards built in to their system. I have been aware of circumstances where ice has told court in the morning, yes we want him, but then later told a court officer, oh, it would take us too long to get there, so cancel that detainer.

the majority of people ICE apprehends in this manner are not the mythical Fox News "omg they're all criminals and rapists with 10 IDs" creature you invoke, and ICE's methods are part of a systematic effort intended to intimidate both undocumented and legal immigrants and keep them from utilizing the justice system, as is their right.

why don't you take the words of your local prosecutors and police officers seriously? they don't want ICE screwing everything up because it makes their jobs harder and costs you, the taxpayer, more money.


I believe the Feds already won this battle when they told George Wallace and Alabama courts to go F**k themselves over the segregation issues.


I don't think that even applies.... with desegregation there was a line drawn between competing rights of the Federal govt, the State govt, and the People. With immigration issues, it's completely Federal. The Federal government either grants a foreigner permission to enter/stay, or it doesn't. A foreigner holds due process rights with respect to criminal prosecution by the Feds/States, but they aren't protected from the civil action of being sent home.

how people who are soooo eager to have the brown people deported actually resort to wistfully hearkening back to the federal anti-segregation tactics that just a few years ago they would have frothed at the mouth to vilify as government overreach.

Case by case basis, dear. No one ruling stands for all situations.

Federal law trumps (no pun intended) state law. Being in the country, undocumented, is obviously illegal.Even in similar western first world countries, and certainly, non-western and/or third world developing countries, you will be arrested and charged with a crime. I fail to see why some people get so worked up over it.It's common-sense and prudent.


I wish Rollins and her crew were as interested in dropping the hammer on repeat criminal gun offenders as they are in protecting illegal immigrants. These people are insane.


Just like your local and state police, an ICE Agent never ceases to be a citizen. He has every right to be in open court. After the local court proceedings, he may take whatever action for which he is authorized.

In fact, it will be fun to watch the next far-left state judge order an ICE Agent to leave the courtroom and watch the agent refuse, especially if it leads to the agent being forcibly removed or better yet, placed into custody. The lawsuit on the violation of civil rights (a state judge can be sued in federal court) will be enormous. Plus, if they don't shut off the tape recorder again, it will be all on the record.

This time the federal agent provided Judge Shelley Joseph with the courtesy of a summons. Next time I would expect ICE to have an arrest team ready to take the judge right into custody on the bench. Is interference with ICE what the Democrat party is really going to run on? Good luck.


Next time I would expect ICE to have an arrest team ready to take the judge right into custody on the bench.

You'd expect that because you're an ax-grinding idiot without the least idea of the limits of ICE's authority. But since you apparently believe that ICE can arrest anyone for anything, I think I'll send them to your house to arrest you for impersonating LEO.

Is interference with ICE what the Democrat party is really going to run on? Good luck.

Aren't you cute with your bratty five-year-old passive-aggressive "Democrat party" bullshit? Did you learn that from your hero Dubya, or is proficiency in childish taunts now a requirement to register as a Republican?

with so much anger, I recommend some slow deep breaths, and maybe yoga. It may help you to refrain from simplistic name-calling, and prevent you from becoming so easily triggered.

ommmmm, namaste.

You're new here, aren't you?

Or are you just a fishy sockpuppet?

I continually find this user’s comments triggering and offensive.... embracing a hateful rhetoric toward a certain segment of the population... Thanks in advance.

...right to be in open court

Well... A judge certainly has some right and/or obligation to close court, and especially to maintain order - though I have serious doubts whether the state judge in the Newton case was right or even within rights with what she did.

...an ICE Agent never ceases to be a citizen. He has every right to be in open court.

Since the agent was there on official law enforcement business, wasn't he armed? I'm not sure what the jurisdictional procedures would be, whether he just had to confirm it at Security or maybe check his sidearm. Any private citizen wouldn't come within sniffing distance of the building entrance if they were armed. Point being - he was there on an official function, which carries a different set of rights, responsibilities, and opportunities than the observing public.

Did the guy really have 6ids on him?