ICE Continues to Make Courthouse Arrests, Undermining Safe Access to Justice
March 9, 2020, San Francisco—The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) and the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) are deeply troubled by the arrest of a San Francisco resident by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in front of the courthouse at 850 Bryant Street last week. The arrest comes in the wake of three ICE arrests at the Sonoma County Superior Court two weeks ago.
Courthouse arrests are damaging to the administration of justice because they undermine people’s constitutional right to safe access to courts. When fear of arrest prevents people from coming to court, it “undermines the judiciary’s ability to provide equal access to justice,” as California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye explained it in 2017. At that time, and as recently as last year, BASF and JDC have repeatedly joined calls to condemn ICE’s practice of using local courthouses to make arrests of undocumented immigrants
Many of the clients of JDC are immigrants seeking protection in matters of fundamental rights, such as domestic violence restraining orders or eviction defense. ICE’s threat of deportation in and around courthouses has a chilling effect on the administration of justice with very human consequences, including discouraging undocumented immigrants who are crime victims or witnesses from willingly taking part in criminal proceedings.
BASF and JDC call on the federal government to cease the practice of using courthouses to launch arrests of undocumented immigrants.
The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of attorneys, law students, and legal professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF enjoys the support of more than 7,500 individuals, law firms, corporate legal departments, and law schools. Through its board of directors, its committees, and its volunteer legal services programs and other community efforts, BASF has worked actively to promote and achieve equal justice for all and oppose discrimination in all its forms, including, but not limited to, discrimination based on race, sex, disability, and sexual orientation. BASF provides a collective voice for public advocacy, advances professional growth and education, and attempts to elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and respect in the practice of law.
The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) advances fairness and equality by providing pro bono legal services to low-income people and educational programs that foster diversity in the legal profession. JDC delivers free legal services through its Legal Services Programs division, which consists of the Pro Bono Legal Services Program, Homeless Advocacy Project, and the Immigrant Legal Defense Program. JDC provides enrichment programs to diverse youth and young adults through its Diversity Educational Pipeline Programs. JDC’s programs serve approximately 9,500 disadvantaged San Franciscans a year, with the overarching goal of assisting the community’s most vulnerable members with accessing the judicial system and strengthening their personal, professional, and economic security.