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Trump Admin Warns Sanctuary States against Barring ICE Courthouse Arrests in Letter

A member of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Removal Operations (ERO) (San Francisco and Northern California) Fugitive Operations teams is pictured during an operation in San Jose, California, U.S. September 25, 2019. (Kate Munsch/Reuters)

State supreme courts in Washington and Oregon received a letter from Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Friday warning them to reconsider “dangerous and unlawful” directives that prohibit immigration officials from detaining illegal immigrants in and around state courthouses.

Last week, Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters banned ICE from courthouse arrests “to maintain the integrity of our courts and provide access to justice,” unless the agency has a criminal judicial warrant. Washington is considering adopting a similar measure.

In response to Walters’s ruling, ICE said it “will continue to carry out its mission to uphold public safety and enforce immigration law.”

“It is ironic that elected officials want to see policies in place to keep ICE out of courthouses, while caring little for laws enacted by Congress to keep criminal aliens out of our country,” an ICE statement read.

Barr and Wolf’s letter, obtained exclusively by Fox News, disparages a claim that Walters makes in requiring a judicial warrant for ICE to make its arrests — an often-peddled sanctuary city policy that obfuscates the reality of immigration law.

“Put simply, an administrative arrest warrant is all that Congress requires for authorities to make an arrest of an alien inside the United States for violations of federal immigration laws subject to the exceptions specifically delineated by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act for immigration officers to make warrantless arrests. Administrative arrest warrants —while civil in nature —are issued based on probable cause, carry the full authority of the United States, and should be honored by any state or local jurisdiction,” the letter explains.

“We will further note that ICE and CBP officers are not subject to state rules that purport to restrict ICE and CBP from making administrative arrests on property that is otherwise open to the public and other law enforcement officers,” the letter continues. “Under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, such rules cannot and will not govern the conduct of federal officers acting pursuant to duly-enacted laws passed by Congress when those laws provide the authority to make administrative arrests of removable aliens inside the United States.”

In concluding, Barr and Wolf urge the courts that “we should all agree that public safety should be of paramount concern.”

“Court rules that would purport to further restrict the lawful operations of federal law enforcement officials only serve to exacerbate sanctuary laws and policies that continue to place our communities at unacceptable risk,” the letter ends.

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