Practices Impedes Access to Justice and Makes Mainers Less Safe, According to Letter

April 10, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine – 179 Maine attorneys today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, urging them to end the practice of arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at courthouses. On April 6, ICE agents entered a courthouse in Portland, Maine and seized a man who was there for a hearing on a non-immigration related offense.

According to the letter, “ICE arrests at courthouses undermine the fundamental constitutional guarantee that all people have the right to seek redress from our court system – including people accused of crimes, witnesses to crimes, and victims of crimes. No one should be afraid to seek justice because of his or her immigration status.”

The signatories include lawyers from across the state and across the political spectrum. They include former federal and state prosecutors, as well as criminal defense attorneys and attorneys from Maine’s largest law firms. The 179 attorneys join a growing chorus of lawyers and judges around the country requesting an end to this practice. Last week, the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and dozens of lawyers in that state issued similar statements.

The Maine letter urges Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Kelly to add courthouses to the existing list of “sensitive locations,” including houses of worship and religious ceremonies, where ICE arrests are discouraged.

The full text of the letter is here: https://www.aclumaine.org/sites/default/files/ice_arrests_attorney_letter_fin.pdf

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