ICE has adopted a formal policy on targeting immigrants in courthouses


Over the objections of immigration advocates, lawyers, and even judges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has officialized its policy of tracking targets and apprehending them inside courthouses as the federal, state, and local levels. The adopted order, distributed at the end of January, suggests ICE agents will seek immigration targets inside courthouses, but will not apprehend potential collateral targets such as family, friends, and witnesses of the primary target, except under “special circumstances.”

ICE agents targeting individuals appearing in court is not a new practice, though it has surged under the Trump administration. Some officials are glad to at least have a formal policy in place that spells out who ICE agents may or may not arrest, and hope this will cut down on confusion and disorder in the court. They know that previous ICE actions have had a chilling effect on immigrants reporting crimes or coming forward as victims or witnesses, and hope this policy will remove barriers to immigrants seeking justice.

Critics, on the other hand, are suspicious of the vague threat of “special circumstances” and wary of non-committal language suggesting agents avoid family, small claims, and other non-criminal court services. They may have good reason to be cautious, as numerous stories of ICE arresting targets in other ostensibly taboo locations such as schools and hospitals. In addition, Acting Director of ICE Thomas Homan has been routinely and openly hostile to criticisms of ICE’s conduct and their choice of targets, and has expressed intentions to target sanctuary cities in particular.

We at Soberalski Immigration Law are always disturbed by news of ICE agents arresting law-abiding, everyday people or breaking up families, and that is why we are committed to helping our clients find the right avenue to legal status. Please contact our offices at 414-533-5000 to set up an appointment today, and encourage friends and loved ones who may be in need of legal status to do the same.

For more information on ICE’s new policy, please see: