Immigration officials announced new guidelines on Wednesday for how federal authorities will conduct arrests inside courthouses.
Reuters was the first to report on a new memo outlining the rules for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Courthouse arrests have drawn more criticism than nearly any other ICE tactic, but the new memo shows that the agency remains as committed as ever to carrying them out.
While the memo directs agents only to proceed with “enforcement actions” against those with prior immigration violations or who have posed safety threats—like gang members or convicted criminals—the agency’s recent history stalking and rounding up immigrants undermines the apparent spirit of the directive.
Reuters reports (emphasis mine throughout):
In New York, the number of ICE arrests in courthouses jumped to 139 in 2017 from 11 in 2016, according to the Immigrant Defense Project advocacy group.
ICE has said it makes courthouse arrests more often in cities like New York that have shown reluctance to turn over some immigrants to federal authorities once they are released from jail.
The memo argue that ICE agents should “generally avoid” immigration arrests in courthouses dedicated to non-criminal proceedings (like family court), but did not issue a blanket prohibition for enforcement at those locations.
It also promises that family members or friends accompanying an undocumented immigrant “will not be subject to civil immigration enforcement action, absent special circumstances.”
The memo continues:
Planned civil immigration enforcement actions inside courthouses will be documented and approved consistent with current operational plans and field operations worksheet procedures. Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) may issue additional procedural guidance on reporting and documentation requirements; such reporting and documentation shall not impose unduly restrictive requirements that operate to hamper or frustrate enforcement efforts.
That is, paperwork is good and integral to our bureaucracy until it prevents the bureaucracy from carrying out mass deportations.