Mass. district attorneys team-up to file lawsuit against ICE: ‘I’m in no fear of arrest… would be my honor’
Massachusetts District Attorneys Marian Ryan and Rachael Rollins

Massachusetts District Attorneys Rachael Rollins and Marian Ryan filed a civil lawsuit Monday to keep federal ICE agents out of state courthouses. Rollin said it would be her “honor” to be arrested by federal agents for her opposition to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The state is becoming a battlefield between state and federal authorities, as last week US Attorney Andrew Lelling indicted a state District Court Judge and a court officer on obstruction of justice charges for preventing an ICE officer from taking custody of an illegal alien defendant and for helping the illegal immigrant escape out of a Newton District Court basement door.

“I am in no fear of arrest. And, very candidly, if I am, it would be my honor,” Rollins said according to the Boston Herald.

The Herald reports …

Rollins has told her prosecutors to alert her to the presence of ICE agents in courthouses, and to tailor charges to avoid impacting a defendant’s immigration status.

In her latest move — catching other Massachusetts DAs by surprise — Rollins, Ryan and several advocacy groups sued ICE in U.S. District Court on Monday, claiming increased ICE activity at state courthouses has a “chilling effect” on illegal immigrants’ interaction with the justice system. The plaintiffs said that’s keeping illegal-immigrant victims, witnesses and defendants away from courthouses, making it tougher to prosecute cases. The suit claims the ICE actions violate “common law privilege” against civil arrests in courthouses.

“That is an assault on our justice system,” Ryan said. “Not one person in our commonwealth is safer because of that practice.”

The Department of Justice recently issued a statement on courthouse arrests that reads: “Now that some law enforcement agencies no longer honor ICE detainers or limit ICE’s access to their detention facilities, these aliens, many of whom have serious criminal histories, are released to the street, threatening public safety. Because courthouse visitors are typically screened upon entry to search for weapons and other contraband, the safety risks for the arresting officers, the arrestee, and members of the community are substantially diminished.”

Not all the state’s District Attorneys (D.A.s) are in agreement with the suit by Rollins and Ryan. D.A. Michael O’Keefe said that the two are playing politics. “I really do see this as a pretext for resisting things politically that they don’t like,” he told the Herald.

D.A. Timothy Cruz, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, told the newspaper the lawsuit came as a surprise. He said Rollins and Ryan didn’t mention it at the association’s meeting last week. “I think that’s unfortunate,” he said.

Referring to Rollins’ and Ryan’s claim that illegal immigrants are avoiding the courts because of ICE agents’ presence, Cruz said, “Show me the numbers. That’s what I’m looking to see … not just a handful of anecdotes.”

Video by WGBH News



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