Across the U.S., anti-Immigration and Customs Enforcement protests continue in many forms. In Portland, hundreds of protesters shut down an ICE field office in 2018 as part of a nationwide campaign called Occupy ICE. In August 2019, 100 people were arrested for partially shutting the West Side Highway in Manhattan in protest of ICE mass arrests. Recently. ICE was dealt a blow by the Oregon court system. Oregon Supreme Court Justice Martha Walters issued a statement Nov. 14 that restricts warrantless activities by ICE agents in state courthouses. Previously, unchecked ICE activity in courthouses could have prevented marginalized individuals from seeking justice in court.
The regulation comes after the ACLU of Oregon, on behalf of several immigration rights groups, asked Oregon courts to ban arrests at courthouses on Oct. 18. ICE agents may still make arrests in courthouses, but henceforth that action require a judicial warrant. That means before ICE agents arrest someone at a courthouse, they must present evidence and convince a judge the action is justified. Similar regulations exist in New Jersey and New York.
Though the Oregon Supreme Court forbids warrantless apprehensions at courthouses statewide, as a federal agency, ICE maintains a large section seeking to justify courthouse arrests. After Justice Walters issued a statement announcing the new regulation an ICE spokesperson said to Oregon Public Broadcasting that ICE would “consider carefully whether to refer those who obstruct our law enforcement for criminal prosecution.” ICE agents are still permitted to carryout arrests, interviews, searches and surveillance at courthouses without a warrant in what are called “exigent circumstances.” The U.S. 9th Court of Appeals, which presides over most of the Western U.S. defines exigent circumstances as those circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that entry was necessary to prevent physical harm to the persons, destruction of evidence or the suspect to escape among others.
The restriction of courthouse arrests will be available for public comment from mid-December through April 2020. Interested parties can comment on the uniform Trial Court Rules website.