ICE Starts Arresting Illegal Immigrants At Courthouses In Defiance Of State Law
Santa Rosa, CA – California lawmakers are outraged that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested two repeat offender Mexican nationals at the Sonoma County courthouse on Tuesday.
California Governor Gavin Newsome signed a law in 2019 that prohibited federal immigration authorities from making arrests at courthouses without a warrant from a judge, the Associated Press reported.
But ICE said it doesn’t matter what laws California put in place because they don’t nullify federal immigration laws.
California law “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 in a statement.
The arrests came a week after President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was sending federal SWAT teams to so-called “sanctuary cities” to help grab up wanted criminals, the Associated Press reported.
However, the Sonoma County arrests did not appear to be part of that enforcement action.
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick confirmed that sheriff’s department was notified by ICE at about 7:45 a.m. on Feb. 18 that agents would be in the area conducting enforcement but said his office did nothing to assist them, Healdsburg Patch reported.
ICE said that both men they arrested at the courthouse in Santa Rose had been arrested and deported multiple times between 2004 and 2010, according to the Associated Press.
"The two individuals were previously arrested by local law enforcement and later released back into the community," U.S. Department of Homeland Security Public Affairs Specialist Jonathan Moor told the Healdsburg Patch in a statement.
Moor identified Antonio Hernandez Lopez as one of the arrestees and said the man had been arrested most recently in December of 2019 by Santa Rosa police and charged with inflicting corporal injury to spouse, DUI, and preventing a witness from reporting.
"Those charges are pending," Moor told the Healdsburg Patch. "He has a 2005 DUI conviction and a 2009 local ordinance conviction. He has been apprehended by U. S. Immigration officers four times between 2004 – 2007 and voluntarily returned to Mexico. He is in ICE custody pending immigration proceedings."
He said ICE agents also arrested Pedro Romero Aguirre.
"[Aguirre] has five criminal convictions spanning more than a decade, including: misdemeanor trespassing, driving without a license, misdemeanor DUI/alcohol, illegal entry, and most recently, Feb. 28, 2019 conviction for misdemeanor battery," Moor said. "In 2010, he was apprehended six times by U. S. Immigration officers. He voluntarily returned to Mexico three of those times and was order to be removed three subsequent times. He is in ICE custody pending removal."
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, Public Defender Kathleen Pozzi, and County Counsel Bruce Goldstein were outraged by the arrests at the courthouse and issued a statement condemning them, the Healdsburg Patch reported.
"ICE detention actions have no place in the court building, where they have the effect of scaring away witnesses and victims, and undermines the District Attorney's Office ability to hold the guilty accountable and protect crime victims," Ravitch said.
Goldstein insisted the arrests were "lawless" and said they violated recently-passed state law, the Healdsburg Patch reported.
"Rather than protect our community, these immigration arrests undermine our system of justice," he complained.
Despite the outrage, ICE officials have given no indication that they plan to stop making arrests at California courthouses.
"Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, California Assembly Bill 668 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," San Francisco's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Field Office Director David Jennings said. "Our officers will not have their hands tied by sanctuary rules when enforcing immigration laws to remove criminal aliens from our communities."