The American Civil Liberties Union says that in the past year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrested people at Kern County courthouses, while they were paying fines for tickets, obtaining marriage licenses, and appearing for court hearings.
In a letter sent yesterday, the ACLU asked ICE to investigate and halt this practice in Bakersfield.
“Our concern is that this seems to be a real practice, a campaign by ICE there, to use the courthouse as a regular location for doing enforcement actions,” says Michael Kaufman, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California.
The ACLU is also calling on ICE to treat courthouses as a sensitive location where they don’t do enforcement actions unless it’s absolutely necessary. Schools, hospitals and places of worship are already categorized this way.
In a written statement, ICE said it focuses on immigration enforcement that prioritizes cases involving convicted criminals, other public safety threats, and those who repeatedly violate immigration laws.