The Latest: Prosecutor blasts court immigration arrests

AP News
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Posted: Mar 31, 2017 7:08 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on federal officials defending immigration arrests in courthouses (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

San Francisco's district attorney says federal immigration agents aren't enhancing public safety by making arrests in courthouses if witnesses and victims of crimes are too scared to show up to testify.

District Attorney George Gascon on Friday said without this evidence, dangerous suspects might go free, and he urged federal authorities to get a warrant to make immigration arrests.

Gascon's comments rebuke a letter by top federal officials arguing that immigration agents must make arrests in courthouses and other public places because state and local policies bar California law enforcement from turning over people for deportation from the jails.

The letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly defended making immigration arrests in courthouses after California's Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (TAN'-ee KAN'-teel sah-kah-OOH'-ay) asked them to stop.

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12:30 p.m.

California's top judge says she appreciates that federal officials are acknowledging that immigration authorities make arrests at state courthouses. But she says the practice undermines public safety.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (TAN'-ee KAN'-teel sah-kah-OOH'-ay) says in a statement Friday that victims and witnesses will fear coming to courthouses to help enforce the law if immigration officers make arrests there. She says courthouses should join schools, churches and hospitals as places where Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers don't make arrests.

Cantil-Sakauye responded to a letter sent this week by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly defending courthouse immigration arrests. They say policies barring local authorities from turning people over for deportation have compelled federal agents to arrest immigrants at courthouses and other public places.

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12:10 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are defending the practice of making immigration arrests in courthouses after California's top judge asked them to stop.

The officials sent a letter this week to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (TAN'-ee KAN'-teel sah-kah-OOH'-ay) saying California and local policies barring local authorities from turning over arrestees for deportation have compelled federal agents to arrest immigrants at courthouses and other public places.

They say in a letter dated Wednesday that courthouses are a safe place for federal agents to make arrests because visitors are typically screened for weapons.

Cantil-Sakauye asked federal officials to cease making immigration arrests at California courthouses, saying they were impeding residents' access to justice.

A spokesman for the chief justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.