Trump faults effort to block courthouse arrests

By Steve LeBlanc
Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is criticizing two prosecutors in Massachusetts for suing to block federal immigration authorities from arresting people at courthouses who are suspected of being in the country illegally.

Trump said recently on Boston Herald Radio that “these are people that probably don’t mind crime.” He was referring to the district attorneys for Suffolk County and Middlesex County. Suffolk County includes Boston.

“They come from a place that you just can’t really understand,” Trump said. “They are protecting people that in many cases, and certainly not in all cases, but in many cases are very dangerous people and you say why? What are they doing this for? What’s the game?”

He called the lawsuit “a sad situation and very unfortunate for Massachusetts.”

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan filed the lawsuit on April 30, arguing the practice of arresting people in courthouses makes it harder to hold defendants accountable.

The prosecutors said in some instances, cases are grinding to a halt because witnesses, victims or defendants are too afraid to come to courts.

“I am not asking nor am I intending to interfere with the federal government when they engage in and exercise their lawful authority,” Rollins said. “I simply ask that they pay us the same respect and not interfere with ours.”

Rollins and Ryan both declined to respond to Trump’s comment. The lawsuit seeks to bar federal authorities from arresting people for civil immigration violations while they’re coming to, leaving or are inside a courthouse. The lawsuit does not aim to block immigration agents from arresting people who are brought in court while in state custody on a criminal charge.

Among other things, the federal lawsuit argues that the practice of courthouse arrests violates the constitutional right to access the courts.

The Trump administration has said it’s only going to halls of justice for certain targets, like public safety threats, and that courthouses are among the safest places to arrest immigrants because visitors typically have to go through metal detectors.

The federal lawsuit is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. It marks the latest fight between state and federal authorities over the Trump administration’s stepped-up immigration efforts.

It also came days after federal prosecutors in Massachusetts charged a state court judge and former court officer with obstruction of justice for allegedly helping a man sneak out a back door of the courthouse to evade a waiting immigration agent.

 

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