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AG Barr calls on Oregon and Washington to reject 'dangerous and unlawful' courthouse sanctuary policies

Attorney General William Barr and acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called on the court systems of two sanctuary states not to adopt rules barring federal immigration enforcement in and around courthouses.

"We understand that the Oregon Supreme Court has adopted, and the Washington Supreme Court is considering adopting, court rules that would attempt to preclude U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from making administrative arrests in and around courthouses in your respective states," reads a letter from the two dated Thursday and addressed to the chief justices of the Washington and Oregon Supreme Courts. "We urge you both to reconsider this dangerous and unlawful course of action."

Last week the Oregon Supreme Court enacted a new rule that would prohibit immigration officials from making immigration arrests at courthouses, as well as nearby entryways, sidewalks, and parking lots. The chief justice of the Washington Supreme Court has previously told ICE to stay away from courthouses, but hasn't yet issued a rule.

"These state laws and policies force state and local officers to release criminal aliens into communities in your States, endangering the public and forcing it to bear the cost of any additional criminal acts they may proceed to commit," Barr and Wolf explain.

The two also confront anti-enforcement advocates' claim that immigration officers should get a judge-issued arrest warrant to conduct immigration arrests instead of the administrative warrants issued by ICE.

"Put simply, an administrative arrest warrant is all that Congress requires for authorities to make an arrest of an alien inside the United States for violations of federal immigration laws, subject to the exceptions specifically delineated by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act for immigration officers to make warrantless arrests," the letter says. "Administrative arrest warrants while civil in nature are issued based on probable cause, carry the full authority of the United States, and should be honored by any state or local jurisdiction."

Finally, the letter says, trying to keep federal immigration officers from doing their job "on property that is otherwise open to the public and other law enforcement officers" runs afoul of the Constitution's provisions on federal and state power.

"Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, such rules cannot and will not govern the conduct of federal officers acting pursuant to duly enacted laws passed by Congress when those laws provide the authority to make administrative arrests of removable aliens inside the United States," Barr and Wolf explain.

"Regardless of how one views our immigration laws, we should all agree that public safety should be of paramount concern," the letter concludes. "Court rules that would purport to further restrict the lawful operations of federal law enforcement officials only serve to exacerbate sanctuary laws and policies that continue to place our communities at unacceptable risk."

In an attachment, the two cite multiple cases of criminal aliens who were released due to sanctuary policies in the two states — rather than turned over to immigration authorities — and who then went on "to commit more heinous crimes" afterward.

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