State and local leaders from law enforcement and the judiciary have been condemning the presence of immigration enforcement agents at courthouses under the Trump Administration, noting that their presence hurts public safety for all by discouraging immigrants from reporting crimes and serving as witnesses. In response, the Trump Administration has defended the practice in increasingly outlandish terms, blaming “sanctuary” policies (falsely stating that they harm public safety, when the opposite is true) and even blaming potential crime victims.
On April 4th, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson David Lapan defended enforcement actions against immigrants who are victims in courthouses, saying: “Just because they’re a victim in a certain case does not mean there’s not something in their background that could cause them to be a removable alien. Just because they’re a witness doesn’t mean they might not pose a security threat for other reasons.”
This flies in the face of good policing and undermines public safety for all.
This approach harms public safety for all. In Denver, for example, city attorney Kristin Bronson reported that she had to drop multiple domestic violence cases due to undocumented women refusing to serve as witnesses due to fears over immigration enforcement at courthouses. In Los Angeles, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck recently reported that his department has seen a dramatic drop-off in reports of domestic violence and sexual abuse due to the fears of the immigrant community of increased collaboration between the justice system and immigration enforcement agents. As San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon recently said, ICE’s presence in courthouses is “very shortsighted … the chilling impact that has on an entire community is devastating.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund: “It’s now clear that the Trump Administration’s top priority is not public safety but their blind obsession with arresting and deporting immigrants at any cost. It is ironic that in every public transportation space — subway, airport, train station — the public address system drills us with the mantra, ‘If you see something, say something.’ Well, DHS’s message to immigrants is ‘be fearful’ and ‘if you see something, say nothing.’ This flies in the face of good policing and undermines public safety for all.”