A federal judge in Boston ruled Thursday that immigration officials can’t make civil arrests of people visiting Massachusetts courthouses, USA Today reports. U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani’s decision comes less than two months after the district attorneys of Suffolk and Middlesex counties and public defenders sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the agency’s policy of making civil immigration arrests inside state courthouses. The judge did not limit ICE’s ability to make criminal arrests.
At issue is a January 2018 ICE directive that authorized civil arrests in courthouses. Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan argue that everyone appearing in court has a common law privilege against civil arrests and that any ICE policy that permits civil courthouse arrests is in excess of the power granted by the Immigration and Naturalization Act. ICE maintains that the plaintiffs lack an “injury in fact” and don’t have standing to bring the claim. Talwani said that, “Criminal defendants will be unable to vindicate their rights if they are taken into ICE custody prior to appearing in court or if witnesses in their defense are too fearful to visit a courthouse.”