Advocates Applaud AG Tong’s Action to Halt Courthouse Immigration Arrests
by Unidad Latina en Acción
Advocates applauded William Tong after he filed an amicus brief with 14 other state attorneys general supporting the Washington State lawsuit against ICE enforcement in and around the state courthouses.
“In recent months, ICE has interrupted justice in our Connecticut courts, jeopardizing public safety and the rule of law in the entire state,” said Catherine John, a member of Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA). “The state of Connecticut must continue to fight to halt ICE arrests in and around our courthouses.”
An estimated 120,000 undocumented immigrants live in Connecticut. Many of them have been unable to appear at court appointments for fear of hostile encounters with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). When called to courthouses for housing, family, civil, or criminal court, plain-clothes ICE agents have arrested and detained immigrants for civil immigration violation.
One recent example is that of Mario Aguilar, an 18-year-old Wilbur Cross junior who was arrested last September while entering the Milford courthouse to answer to misdemeanor charges stemming from a car accident in August. He spent over 100 days in ICE detention in Bristol, MA, before getting a positive ruling on his asylum case and coming home to New Haven on New Year’s Eve. In October, Domar Shearer went to Derby Superior Court to face charges and was alerted by the Public Defender’s Office that plain-clothes ICE officers were looking for him. After a 7-hour stand-off, in which Shearer stayed in the Public Defender’s Office, while ICE agents and immigrant rights’ advocates waited in the court hallways, ICE left the building and Shearer was able to return to his community.
National immigrant rights advocate Kica Matos added, “Our courthouses are meant to be places where due process and justice are delivered to our community. Using our judicial buildings to hunt down undocumented residents is shocking to the conscience and a gross miscarriage of justice. Our communities are less safe when immigrants who witness crimes are afraid to speak out for fear of going into a state building. No one is served when courthouses become places where people are terrorized and prevented from accessing justice. We are pleased that AG Tong has joined in this amicus brief to prevent ICE from using our courthouses to hunt down immigrants.”
Contact: Catherine John, (203) 887-3788 or John Lugo, (203) 606-3484.