US

Prosecutors Try to Protect Criminals by Barring ICE From Courthouses

By Miguel Moreno

Two county district attorneys from Massachusetts have partnered up to sue ICE, demanding that the agency stop arresting illegal immigrants in courthouses.

DA Marian Ryan of Middlesex County and DA Rachael Rollins of Suffolk County filed the lawsuit on April 29. The DAs intend to shield all immigrants from ICE in courthouses, regardless of their charges or criminal history.

“I am not asking, nor am I intending, to interfere with the federal government when they engage and exercise their lawful authority,” Rollins said in a statement, reported boston.com. “I simply ask that they pay us the same respect and not interfere with ours.”

Rollins says that her plan isn’t to interfere, despite the fact that ICE has the legal right to enter public spaces—including courthouses—and make arrests based upon probable cause. The DAs claim that immigrants fear going to court because they may be arrested by ICE, thereby discouraging them from going.

Promoting Fear is Not Judicious

Tom Lyons, Boston’s ICE field officer, responded to the DA’s memo with a statement on April 29: “There is never any reason for anyone to fear or distrust ICE law enforcement officers … Attempts to promote an overall fear or suspicion of law enforcement officers, is a counterproductive and very misguided approach to criminal justice.”

Lyons said he hoped that the DA will focus on alleged criminals rather than law enforcement.

In a to challenge ICE, Rollins asked employees in March to notify her if immigration agents were seen apprehending or questioning people with future court dates, according to boston.com.

Two illegal immigrants, Elmer Hernandez-Montes and Jose Hernandez Rodriguez, had been arrested in courthouses on the day the lawsuit was filed—both were gang members and were arrested in Suffolk County, reported Boston Herald. They are currently in immigration proceedings.

‘Gato’ Would be on the Street

“If he hadn’t been arrested in court, he’d be out on the street,” an ICE official told the Boston Herald of Hernandez-Montes’s arrest on April 29.

Hernandez-Montes is a member of the 18th street gang: a violent gang that shares the notoriety of MS-13. He is also known as “Gato,” or Cat, and has an extensive criminal record, including assault and battery with a deadly weapon. He has been deported from the United States three times already.

Handcuffed inmates, members of MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs, are escorted upon arrival at the maximum security prison in Zacatecoluca, 65 km east of San Salvador, on August 30, 2017.(Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images)

Jose Hernandez Rodriguez is gang member of MS-13. The White House released a statement last year in May, calling MS-13 gang members “violent animals” that follow the motto of “kill, rape, control.” He was arrested for illegal possession of a dangerous weapon.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders briefing about MS-13.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stands in front of gang related photos from the MS-13 gang during a daily briefing at the White House July 27, 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)