Lawyers and advocates sue ICE over arrests - Albuquerque Journal

Lawyers and advocates sue ICE over arrests

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico prosecutors, defense attorneys and immigrant rights advocates have joined together to ask a federal court to prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from detaining people who are conducting business at state courthouses.

The state Attorney General’s Office, the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Law Offices of the Public Defender filed the suit against ICE and Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday. Advocate groups New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Enlace Communitario and El Centro de Igualidad and Derechos are also listed as plaintiffs. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and Albuquerque law firms Martinez, Hart, Thompson and Sanchez, and Freedman, Boyd, Hollander, Goldberg, Urias and Ward.

Not only do the arrests put people in fear, advocates say, but prosecutors and defense attorneys say they make it harder to move forward with cases because witnesses and crime victims are afraid to go to court.

“The current courthouse arrest policy that ICE relies on to indiscriminately arrest immigrants in and around state courthouses serves no purpose but to frighten people and chill access to our courts,” ACLU lawyer Maria Martinez Sanchez said in a virtual news conference Wednesday. “And when people are too scared to go to court, community safety suffers, as does the confidence in our system of justice.”

An ICE spokeswoman said the organization doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but did provide a general statement to the Journal.

“As part of the Department of Homeland Security’s homeland security mission, our trained law enforcement professionals adhere to the Department’s mission and values, and uphold our laws while continuing to provide the nation with safety and security,” Leticia Zamarripa said in an email.

State Chief Public Defender Ben Baur said the LOPD has at least 30 documented instances between February 2017 and April 2019 in which someone was detained by immigration authorities in or outside a courthouse in Albuquerque or Santa Fe.

In August 2018, a LOPD client was detained outside of a Metropolitan Court courtroom in front of an attorney.

“They were in plainclothes, and they did not identify themselves,” Baur said of the arresting agents.

Baur said that in March 2019, another client was detained while walking to their car outside of Metro Court.

According to ICE’s civil policy on immigration enforcement inside courthouses, enacted in January 2018, action will be taken 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 …”

In April 2019, the state Supreme Court denied a petition signed by hundreds of lawyers and advocacy organizations, as well as five retired state Supreme Court justices, to require federal immigration agents to have a judicial warrant based on probable cause before they arrest undocumented immigrants in or around state courthouses.

During the 2020 Legislative Session, Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez introduced a bill that would prohibit law enforcement from arresting parties to a case, including witnesses and victims, on courthouse property or as they’re traveling to or leaving a courthouse, unless a judicial warrant for arrest has been issued.

The bill died early in the session, but Sedillo Lopez told the Journal Wednesday that’s she’s going to rework the bill and introduce it again next year.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
New Mexico credit union ceases overdraft fees
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico's oldest credit union will ... New Mexico's oldest credit union will no longer charge overdraft fees to members.
2
Visit Albuquerque leader: Business travel recovery could take years
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque saw its fair share of ... Albuquerque saw its fair share of leisure travelers over the summer, but business travel to the city ...
3
Regents, city council give approval for south campus TIDD
ABQnews Seeker
The University of New Mexico moved ... The University of New Mexico moved a step closer to launching a massive development project on its south campus, which school officials envision will ...
4
Pecos River faces water shortages
ABQnews Seeker
Farmers growing alfalfa, corn and cotton ... Farmers growing alfalfa, corn and cotton in the arid Pecos River Basin of eastern New Mexico do so in a region known for extreme ...
5
NM preparing to roll out COVID-19 vaccine for younger ...
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico is preparing to start ... New Mexico is preparing to start giving COVID-19 vaccine shots to children between ages 5 to 11, with the state set to receive 24,600 ...
6
In Pictures: Scenic Views, Vintage Train
ABQnews Seeker
Tourists from all over the country ... Tourists from all over the country come to the small towns of Chama, New Mexico, and Antonito, Colorado, to ride the 140-year-old narrow gauge ...
7
ABQ stadium bond question is botched
ABQnews Seeker
Ballot correctly describes gross receipts tax ... Ballot correctly describes gross receipts tax issue, then mislabels it as GO bond
8
UNM regents give up power over purchasing
ABQnews Seeker
Administration given the power to make ... Administration given the power to make decisions
9
Televised mayoral debate gets personal
ABQnews Seeker
Gonzales accuses Keller of 'serious misconduct,' ... Gonzales accuses Keller of 'serious misconduct,' mayor denies allegations