In summary

Immigration agents have been put on notice by California’s Supreme Court Chief Justice for “stalking undocumented immigrants” at courthouses, and using courthouses as “bait.”

Immigration agents have been put on notice by California’s Supreme Court Chief Justice for “stalking undocumented immigrants” at courthouses.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye writes that “courthouses should not be used as bait.” She added, “I respectfully request that you refrain from this sort of enforcement in California’s courthouses.”

Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye

The Judicial Council of California said the Chief Justice had learned of the arrests of several people after court proceedings.

There are no figures for how many people have been apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at courthouses. One well-publicized case centered on a man who was detained while leaving a hearing at the Pasadena courthouse with his lawyer last month.

The justice’s letter goes on to explain: “Most Americans have more daily contact with their state and local governments than with the federal government, and I am concerned about the impact on public trust and confidence in our state court system if the public feels that our state institutions are being used to facilitate other goals and objectives, no matter how expedient they may be.”

Increased immigration enforcement began after President Trump issued an executive order prioritizing the deportation of all undocumented immigrants.

Immigration officials have defended the action, saying they only do it when absolutely necessary. The enforcement agency avoids arrests at sensitive locations like churches and schools. Courthouses are not included on that list.

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Elizabeth Aguilera

Elizabeth Aguilera is an award-winning multimedia journalist who covers health and social services for CalMatters. She joined CalMatters in 2016 from Southern California Public Radio/KPCC 89.3 where she...