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In top California sanctuary city, ICE agents take matters into their own hands to enforce the law
ICE agents are arresting immigrants in California courtrooms, despite the state's "sanctuary state" status. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

In top California sanctuary city, ICE agents take matters into their own hands to enforce the law

California lawmakers last year declared "sanctuary state" status for the entire state, adding to the dozens of cities that already had "sanctuary city" laws on the books.

However, that hasn't stopped Immigration and Customs Enforcement from doing its job — even if that means arresting illegal immigrants in courtrooms.

What's going on?

ICE agents entered Sacramento Superior Court earlier this month to arrest an immigrant, Yovanny Ontiveros-Cebreros, according to his lawyer, Charles Pacheco. The Sacramento Bee claimed the move could have a "chilling effect" across California.

Judge Lawrence Brown initially stepped in to prevent the arrest, Pacheco said. But after spending time in his judicial chambers, Brown allowed ICE agents to complete their job, telling Pacheco the agents had a warrant for his client's arrest.

"The judge was weak — he had no control of his courtroom, and allowed the federal government to come into his court. He (Brown) just wanted to neutralize the situation, so he could figure out what was going on, and then he felt that it was justified that the (ICE) guy said there was a warrant for illegal re-entry," Pacheco told the Bee, adding he never saw the warrant against his client.

However, Brown told the Bee that judges do not prevent law enforcement agencies from making lawful arrests.

"Remanding on an outstanding arrest warrant issued by another jurisdiction is the province of the Sheriff’s department. It happens on a regular basis, particularly in large felony arraignments courts. The court was mindful of the concerns raised by counsel about a chilling effect on undocumented persons coming to court – one articulated far more thoughtfully by the Chief Justice of California – but such concerns could not impede enforcing a lawfully-issued warrant at the moment," he said.

A spokesman for ICE told the Bee that agents "made a criminal arrest at the Sacramento Superior Courthouse on Wednesday pursuant to a criminal arrest warrant issue by a federal magistrate judge." He did not offer additional information.

Anything else?

ICE agents have been making arrests in Fresno County courthouse for the last month, according to the Fresno Bee. Fresno County is south of Sacramento County.

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