Many Florida immigrants are currently slated to face criminal charges in courthouses throughout the state. A recent incident in another state has many immigrants and immigrant advocates on edge regarding current U.S. immigration law and the leeway police officers appear to have to target immigrants outside courthouses. The recent situation involved several arrests.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were reportedly dressed in plain clothing when they took four individuals into custody outside a courthouse. Reporters in the area say they asked the officers to identify themselves, but they refused to do so. One man took to his Twitter account following the incident, warning noncitizens in the area to steer clear of the particular courthouse in question.
ICE officers typically do not show up at public locations, such as churches, schools, hospitals or other such places. However, the law does not prohibit officials from staging arrests in front of courthouses or other government buildings. ICE spokesmen say they usually only make arrests outside courthouses in situations where immigrants in question place public safety at risk or they have pending criminal charges.
U.S. immigration law has recently undergone several changes that have increased anxiety and fear among many Florida immigrants and their families. If someone appears at a court hearing or in some other public place and winds up getting led away in handcuffs by ICE officials, family members may feel helpless and alone, wondering where to turn for help. A good place to start is to request a meeting with an experienced immigration attorney.
Source: Time, "Plainclothes Officers Arrested Immigrants at a Courthouse. Can They Do That?", Maya Rhodan, Sept. 18, 2017