The Associated Press reported Wednesday that U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) has issued a new directive for civil immigration enforcement actions in courtrooms.
The memo, dated January 10, was signed by acting ICE director Thomas Homan.
Part of the policy section reads as follows:
ICE civil immigration enforcement actions inside courthouses include actions 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, when ICE officers or agents have information that leads them to believe the targeted aliens are present at that specific location.
Aliens encountered during a civil immigration enforcement action inside a courthouse, such as family members or friends accompanying the target alien to court appearances or serving as a witness in a proceeding, will not be subject to civil immigration enforcement action, absent special circumstances, such as where the individual poses a threat to public safety or interferes with ICE’s enforcement actions.
Reaction to the directive has already been met with criticism by immigrant rights groups, according to a Think Progress story.
“This directive purports to be something new, but it’s really just a continuation of what ICE has been doing for the past year under President Trump’s leadership,” a Immigrant Defense Project statement said. “In 2017, we saw an alarming 1100% increase in ICE courthouse arrests and attempted arrests in New York courthouses from the previous year. This policy will enable that statistic to continue escalating, and allow ICE to further target vulnerable immigrants, to hunt immigrants down in all courts, and to terrorize friends and family members.”