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Prosecutors Sue to Stop ICE Arrests

Arrested man in handcuffs with hands behind back
By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 03, 2019 6:00 AM

In a man-bites-dog story, prosecutors are suing to stop arrests at Massachusetts courthouses.

You read that right. The state's district attorneys want federal immigration officials to stop arresting undocumented immigrants at the courthouse. The prosecutors, joined by public defenders, say customs agents are disrupting the administration of justice by patrolling the courthouses. It gets stranger; a judge allegedly helped one illegal alien escape out a rear door.

States v. ICE

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have been chasing immigrants at courthouses around the country. In California, lawmakers got tired of it and passed a law last year to protect the immigrants. It was the first law of its kind in an ongoing battle between the Trump administration and the states over immigrant rights.

In Massachusetts, the battle has escalated to a civil war. After helping an immigrant elude authorities, a judge and a former courthouse officer were charged last week with obstruction and other federal charges. "We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.

Now Massachusetts is fighting back. In a lawsuit, state officials say federal agents are disrupting everybody at the courthouses. That includes lawyers, litigants, witnesses, and -- of course -- judges.

Impeding Justice

"Entire communities now view the Massachusetts courts as places where they cannot go, for any reason, greatly impeding access to justice and undermining the administration of justice in these communities," the complaint says. Reacting to the indictment of Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph, state Attorney General Maura Healey said it was "a radical and politically motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts."

Joseph and former trial court officer Wesley MacGregor face counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, obstruction of a federal proceeding, and aiding and abetting. MacGregor was also charged with one count of perjury.

It is a head-spinning turn-around from last week, when Attorney General William Barr said President Trump did not obstruct justice in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Mueller report cited more than a dozen attempts by the president to impede the inquiry.

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