Local officials in San Francisco blasted Immigration and Customs Enforcement this week over the courthouse arrest of an illegal immigrant in defiance a California sanctuary law.
According to KTVU-TV, the unidentified man was apprehended by immigration authorities on the courthouse steps Tuesday while on his way to criminal court for a hearing.
The arrest was strongly condemned Thursday by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju.
"California law explicitly forbids a civil enforcement agency, including ICE, from making a civil arrest without a warrant outside a courthouse. ICE's illegal conduct undermines community trust and public safety," Raju said in a news release."San Francisco will not allow such egregious abuse of power to go unchecked; we will provide immediate and zealous representation to anyone subject to such illegal activity."
Similarly, Boudin criticized the arrest in the same release, saying, "ICE actions in or near our courthouses deters people from accessing our justice system, making us all less safe."
A California law enacted last year prohibits authorities from making arrests at courthouses without a judicial warrant. The move was meant to hamstring ICE's enforcement and removal efforts because the agency makes immigration arrests based on administrative or civil warrants.
In an open letter to the American public from last year, ICE explained that "Section 287 of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides ICE officers the authority to arrest aliens without a judicial warrant," and "no judge in this country has the authority to issue a warrant for a civil immigration violation."
In a news release Thursday, ICE noted that California's sanctuary law doesn't supersede federal immigration law.
"Our officers will not have their hands tied by sanctuary rules when enforcing immigration laws to remove criminal aliens from our communities," ICE San Francisco Field Office Director David Jennings said in the release. He also said that the statue in question "cannot and will not govern the conduct of federal officers acting pursuant to duly-enacted laws passed by Congress that provide the authority to make administrative arrests of removable aliens inside the United States."
ICE said the man apprehended earlier this week was a Mexican national with multiple felony convictions from 2016, 2017, and 2019 and that the individual "has been arrested by local law enforcement at least seven times" over the past five years. The agency claimed that it lodged a detainer on the individual in 2018, but that it was subsequently ignored as local law enforcement released him back into the community.
"For many years, the city and county of San Francisco has refused to cooperate with ICE — much to their own detriment," Jennings said. "Criminals like this individual are released to reoffend again and again."
This isn't the first time that ICE has flouted California's courthouse arrest law. Last month, immigration agents arrested two illegal aliens at a Sonoma County Superior Court, according to The Hill.