Ryan: Feds wouldn’t budge on court house visits
Says she reached out to US immigration officials 12 times
MIDDLESEX DISTRICT ATTORNEY MARIAN RYAN said on Monday that she decided to sue US Customs and Immigration Enforcement only after the federal agency refused to address more than a dozen separate instances where agents interfered with business at local courts.
“I’d say more than a dozen times,” Ryan said when asked how many times over the last year and a half her office had pressed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about the issue.
She said federal immigration enforcement officials would show up unannounced at court houses dressed in plain clothes and interfere with proceedings at family, housing, and criminal courts. “ICE has made clear, as it’s laid out in the complaint, that they’re going to follow their directive,” Ryan said.
The ICE directive, formulated in January 2018, holds that court house arrests are often necessitated by the unwillingness of jurisdictions to cooperate with ICE in the transfer of noncitizens to federal prisons and jails.
She said it would be unlikely that ICE agents would be arrested if they violated the order. “Typically, if someone is behaving according to what they’re told to do, it’s some layers up from that,” Ryan said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins became aware of Ryan’s plans to go to court when she reached out to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office a few months ago and was told that Ryan was working on a lawsuit.
Rollins said she has no problem with ICE apprehending individuals once they have been convicted and served their time.
“What is problematic,” she said, “is that when they remove them, number one, prior to them being held accountable, and number two, which is what this lawsuit about, when it happens in public places and causes the chilling effect of people not wanting to show up to court.”Ryan said the chief reason she got involved was because she believed the ICE directive denies court access to the public, in this case members of the public who are non-citizens.
“It’s what all of us believe,” she said. “We believe the court is how you resolve problems. If we deny people the right to go to court, what have we become?”