N.J. chief justice to feds: Don’t arrest immigrants inside courthouses

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The chief justice of New Jersey’s Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Trump administration to refrain from arresting illegal immigrants inside courthouses, warning that current practice could erode public confidence in the justice system.


Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said federal immigration authorities had recently arrested two people who showed up for court appearances in state court.

“When individuals fear that they will be arrested for a civil immigration violation if they set foot in a courthouse, serious consequences are likely to follow,” Rabner wrote in a letter to John F. Kelly, secretary of homeland security.


Rabner said this fear could deter a number of people from appearing in court, including witnesses to violent crimes, victims of domestic violence, and children and families in need of assistance.

Rabner was nominated to the high court by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in 2007 and renominated for tenure by Republican Gov. Christie in 2014.

As chief justice, Rabner is also the top administrator for New Jersey’s court system.





In the letter, Rabner said state courts and corrections officials had cooperated with federal immigration authorities’ detainer requests for “the surrender of defendants who are held in custody.”

“That practice is different from carrying out a public arrest in a courthouse for a civil immigration violation, which sends a chilling message,” he wrote.

Schools, houses of worship, and hospitals are treated as safe zones by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Rabner said. A similar standard should be applied to courthouses, he said.

























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1 Philadelphia

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