There are any number of reasons that a Pennsylvania immigrant might visit a courthouse. Many such reasons might include official immigration proceedings, while others might simply involve someone who happens to be an immigrant attending a court hearing to support a friend or loved one. Regardless of what prompts a courthouse visit, prosecutors in another state are fighting for an end of immigration detention arrests that have been frequently occurring at such locations.
Many public defenders (some of whom have joined the prosecutors in their lawsuit) say they are having a tough time getting their clients to come to court as necessary because they fear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will show up and take them into custody. The lawsuit amounts to a legal battle between state and federal officials and is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. The lawsuit was filed just days after a judge and a court officer were charged with obstructing justice.
The court officials were accused of helping an immigrant flee a courthouse through a back exit to escape a potential encounter with ICE officers in front of the building. Spokespeople for the current presidential administration say ICE typically only targets immigrants at courthouses if they are believed to be a threat to public safety. The lawsuit seeks prohibition against immigration arrests against any man or woman who is entering, inside or exiting a courthouse.
This is definitely not the only controversial immigration detention topic under current debate in the United States. Pennsylvania immigrants with upcoming court hearings may want to stay updated on the case, however. Anyone worried about legal status issues may wish to discuss the matter with an experienced immigration attorney before heading to court.