Advocates: Bar immigration agents from state courthouses

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Advocates for immigrants are planning to rally at the Connecticut Supreme Court on Monday to demand that federal immigration agents be kept out of state courthouses unless they have arrest warrants signed by judges.

Judicial officials, however, say they can’t ban federal agents from courthouses, which are open to the public under the state constitution.

The Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance, which is organizing the protest with several other groups, said in a statement that Immigration and Customs Enforcement “routinely stalks Connecticut courts to target community members, often acting aggressively against anyone they believe to be interfering with their warrantless civil arrests.”

The alliance also accuses the state Judicial Branch of condoning immigration agents’ activities.

Emails seeking comment were sent to spokespeople for Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Friday.

Judge Patrick Carroll III, the state’s chief court administrator, said current Chief Justice Richard Robinson and former Chief Justice Chase Rogers both asked the U.S. Justice Department to not perform immigration enforcement activities in state courthouses.

“Pursuant to the Constitution, our courts are open and the Judicial Branch cannot ‘ban’ anyone from our courts,” Carroll said in a statement.

A new state law that took effect Oct. 1 limits when Connecticut law enforcement officers can hold individuals sought by federal immigration officials and restricts when law enforcement officials can communicate with federal agents about immigrants.

Carroll said judicial officials have trained, and will continue to train, courthouse marshals on the new law.

Last month, the immigration agency, citing a lack of cooperation by Connecticut and criticizing the state’s “sanctuary” policies, sent subpoenas to judicial officials asking for information on three immigrants convicted of state crimes who were released from state custody.

The Judicial Branch in January fired a marshal accused of helping a Jamaican immigrant avoid being detained by immigration agents in October at the Derby courthouse.

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