Judge scolds ICE for ‘disruptive’ arrest inside courtroom. ICE doubles down.

Last week’s ICE arrest of a suspect inside a California courtroom is being condemned by a Superior Court judge who does not want to see it happen again.

Sacramento County Superior Court Presiding Judge David De Alba criticized the arrest of Yovanny Ontiveros-Cebreros inside the courtroom as “disruptive,” the Fresno Bee reported.

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Considered a first in California, the arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents occurred as Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown was concluding the arraignment of Ontiveros-Cebreros, an illegal immigrant who had an outstanding arrest warrant and who pleaded not guilty to two felony charges including possession of a controlled substance for sale.

Charles Pacheco, the man’s lawyer, slammed the move and warned it could have a chilling effect across the state, which last year declared “sanctuary state” status for all of California. But Brown upheld the move and said the concerns “could not impede enforcing a lawfully-issued warrant at the moment.”

Judge De Alba, however, said he did “not like what happened last week and will work with local sheriff and, if necessary, with ICE representatives, to avoid this from happening again,” the Bee reported.

“Arrests that occur inside of a state courthouse and especially inside of a courtroom are disruptive of courtroom proceedings,” De Alba said a statement. “Our Court regrets the decision by ICE agents to execute an arrest warrant inside one of our courtrooms. The fear of immigration arrest deters witnesses and crime victims from coming forward to participate in the prosecution of crimes and the resolution of child custody, landlord-tenant, personal injury, and other claims.”

California’s chief justice, the ACLU and others also condemned the Sacramento arrest.

“Continuing to make immigration arrests at state courts and especially in our courtrooms is disruptive, shortsighted, and counterproductive. It is damaging to community safety and disrespects the state court system,” Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said. “Last year, I asked federal immigration authorities to treat courthouses as ‘sensitive areas,’ much as schools, churches, and hospitals are treated. My position has not changed.”

“Everyone, regardless of their citizenship status, has the right to enter a courtroom without the threat of deportation,” Vasudha Talla, Northern California ACLU attorney, said in a statement.

“When members of our community are scared to go to the courts, their constitutionally protected right to due process is undermined,” Talla added. “By scaring people away from courthouses, ICE threatens the public health and safety of the entire community. This is exactly the kind of enforcement approach that causes immigrant communities to fear cooperation with law enforcement officials. “

Over in New Mexico, immigrant advocates have asked that state’s Supreme Court to make arrests in courtrooms more difficult for ICE, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

ICE defended its actions in California and doubled down on its intention to continue seeking out illegal immigrants in the state’s courtrooms, noting the actions of other law enforcement agencies around the same courts.

“ICE’s enforcement activities in these same courthouses are wholly consistent with longstanding law enforcement practices nationwide,” a statement read, pointing a finger at the state of California for making it difficult to “streamline apprehending criminal aliens released from local custody.”

“ICE will continue to use all other available methods to apprehend individuals when we know their expected locations – like at courthouses,” the statement said. “Individuals entering courthouses are typically screened by law enforcement personnel to search for weapons and other contraband,” making arrests there safer for all parties.

Many Twitter users condemned the judge and the critics who continue to get in the way of federal agents trying to do their job.


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