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Washington sues over arrests of immigrants at courthouses around the state

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

- Olympia, WA

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration for arresting immigrants in or near courthouses around the state.

Ferguson filed the federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs & Border Protection (CBP). The lawsuit alleges that the arrests of undocumented immigrants are unlawful and unconstitutional. Ferguson said the practice is harmful to public safety and Washington‘s justice system.

“If immigration officials can demonstrate that their courthouse arrests only target dangerous criminals, I will drop this lawsuit,” Ferguson said. “But they won’t do that because they can’t. The federal government has arrested many people who are simply trying to access justice for themselves or their families. That’s illegal, it makes us all less safe, and it needs to stop.”

In a press release, the Attorney General’s office says that between 2017 and 2019, there have been hundreds of immigrants that have been arrested by ICE in or near courthouses around the state.

“Contrary to the assertions of immigration officials, evidence shows these arrests are not limited to dangerous individuals. Many were victims of crime or appeared in court on nonviolent charges, such as traffic offenses, with no prior criminal record. Others were there to register motor vehicles, pay traffic tickets or accompany a relative to court,” the press release stated.

A judge in Massachusetts issued an injunction recently that prohibits the practice of arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses while a lawsuit that is against the practice proceeds.

“Each day that the threat of ICE arrests looms over Massachusetts courthouses… some state criminal and civil cases may well go unprosecuted for lack of victim or witness participation,” the judge wrote.

In the last two years, undocumented immigrants have been arrested at courthouses in 20 counties throughout the state: Adams, Benton, Clark, Cowlitz, Franklin, Grant, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Mason, Okanogan, Pacific, Pierce, Skagit, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Yakima.

Written by MLWA7 Staff

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