U.S. immigration agents arrested two people at a Northern California courthouse, including a man detained in a hallway on his way to a hearing, flouting a new state law requiring a judicial warrant to make immigration arrests inside such facilities.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents made the arrests Tuesday at Sonoma County Superior Court, prompting an outcry from criminal justice and court officials who said the action undermines local authority and deters immigrants who are in the country illegally from participating in the U.S. justice system.

ICE said California’s law doesn’t supersede federal law and “will not govern the conduct of federal officers acting pursuant to duly-enacted laws passed by Congress that provide the authority to make administrative arrests of removable aliens inside the United States.”

“Our officers will not have their hands tied by sanctuary rules when enforcing immigration laws to remove criminal aliens from our communities,” David Jennings, ICE’s field office director in San Francisco, said in the statement.

California is one of several states that have passed laws to push back on a Trump administration policy introduced two years ago to make immigration arrests inside courthouses. Last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law to prohibit immigration arrests at courthouses without a warrant issued by a judge.

The arrests in Sonoma County came days after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced the agency will participate in ICE’s escalating immigration enforcement across the country in jurisdictions with sanctuary policies such as California and San Francisco.

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, Public Defender Kathleen Pozzi and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin condemned the arrests for undermining public safety. Sonoma County counsel Bruce Goldstein called ICE’s actions “lawless” because the agents had no warrants.

“It’s now going to put total fear in the community,” Pozzi said in an interview with the Press Democrat. “People aren’t going to come to court. Victims will refuse to show up. Witnesses will refuse to show up … cases will have to get dismissed.”

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said both men had been arrested by immigration officers numerous times from 2004 to 2010 and returned to Mexico in response several times.

In one of the arrests, a Sonoma County public defender and an investigator confronted an ICE agent leading a 37-year-old man to an unmarked law enforcement vehicle, demanding information about the affiliation of the agent, who wore no uniform, and the name of the man being taken away, Pozzi said. The man was detained in a second-floor hallway of the courthouse before he could attend his court hearing, she said.

His lawyer, private defense attorney Martin Woods, said his client was a carpenter who was expecting to resolve his criminal case Tuesday. The man had been arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence and misdemeanor drunken driving and had since been trying to take responsibility for the incident, Woods said.


  1. It is about time. What about adding “aiding and harboring escaped criminals?

    1. Author

      That is a federal crime for federal violations,interesting thought.

  2. I want to know what Gavin Newsome is going to do about it. Why does he hide in a corner and cower in fear when federal agents stomp on, laugh at and ignore the sovereignty of California?
    Why is he such a pussy? The federal government is, according to Newsome, putting the safety of our citizens in jeopardy and is disparaging the sovereignty of our courts. And what does Newsome do? Nothin’. Have some backbone. Call out the National Guard. Ready the CHP for war. Seize all military bases. Freeze all federal assets. Declare war on the federal government.* Do something. All that power at his fingertips, and he does nothin’. Absolutely nothin’.

    *I am not actually condoning war against the federal government. My statement is hyperbole, intended to emphasize a point. The point being Newsome is a pussy who signs stupid laws he will never have the backbone to enforce.

    1. Author

      Newsomes gang has declared war on the feds in many ways, mostly in the courts. Interesting how much money they are spending on all this.
      There needs to be some court rulings to establish the base of law but is years down the road.

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