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March 09, 2020

Philadelphia Bar Association Statement on ICE Arrests within Courthouses

In response to recent arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within Courthouses, Chancellor Hon. A. Michael Snyder (ret.) of the Philadelphia Bar Association, the nation’s oldest metropolitan Bar Association, issued the following statement:

“The Philadelphia Bar Association has long had a position of being committed to the protection of individual liberties and to safeguarding the rights of all individuals. These basic rights include the right of due process to all, whether they are citizens or not.

“The entrance of agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service into courthouses or other facilities where legal proceedings are held causes fear among litigants, witnesses, victims and family members. The arrest of immigrants by ICE Agents, without warrants, constitutes a violation of the rights of due process.

“Recently, nonuniformed agents of ICE were recorded performing such unlawful arrests in courthouses within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in blatant contravention of the internal policies of ICE. These arrests appear to have been aided or abetted by local courthouse personnel, who witnessed the arrest but who did nothing to protect the rights of those being detained, even when the involved individual was lawfully within the courthouse, accompanied by his attorney, to conclude a legal matter not related to his application for naturalization. When his attorney asked to see the arrest warrant, the ICE agent insisted first that the arrest warrant was in his vehicle; when asked to get the warrant, the agent then insisted that he had the right to execute a ‘warrantless administrative arrest.’

“Such actions are hauntingly reminiscent of those of a police state, calling to mind the actions of a secret or state police. Actions such as these are a clear violation of basic human rights. This is not the America created by the Framers of the Constitution.

“We call upon law enforcement agencies, local governments, and court administration to prevent the access of ICE agents into courthouses, and to act to protect the rights of individuals lawfully within those facilities from harassment or arrest by ICE agents, whether uniformed or not.”

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