ICE has undertaken the practice of detaining individuals at state courthouses when they appear for matters unrelated to their immigration case. The explanation given by the agency is that communities that do not place “immigration holds” on immigrants have “forced their hand” towards this practice. This is utter nonsense. ICE has a significant number of tools with which to locate and apprehend aliens who they consider high priority such as gang members or people with previous deportations orders. One, they can simply look them up and detain them at their homes or other locations. In today’s day and age, its almost impossible for someone not to leave a digital trail that will allow law enforcement to find them. Two, if an individual is on probation for a serious offense and is on probation, ICE can detain him or her at the probation officer’s appointments. Three, ICE may and does detain a significant number of individuals with criminal backgrounds while they are traveling in and out of the Unite States. Just from these examples it is clear that ICE has other options beyond going to courthouses to pick up aliens. The real reason is obvious, as with denaturalization cases and other actions, to send a chill through the immigrant community in order to have them “self deport” and/or creating legal hurdles to being in the U.S. Not OK as the person ultimately in charge of these policies has said. If not look at the opinion of 77 ex-judges on this matter.
First and foremost, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Alaska takes a very pragmatic and serious approach to the enforcement of immigration laws. Rare are the cases of individuals who have not crossed paths with the law who find themselves in the sights of ICE in this state. In other words, if you do not have a previous deportation order and/or have not committed a criminal offense that makes you deportable the chances of immigration “picking you up” are lower. That does not mean that individuals who are in the United States without permission or out of status have a free for all. Do not confuse a priority system based upon ICE’s resources with the idea that it is OK to violate immigration laws. So, if you are out there as an immigrant (including residents or naturalized citizens – yes Uncle Sam can take your naturalization away under certain circumstances) with a criminal background or have a previous order of removal – even if you have TPS or are checking in with ICE- call an immigration attorney experienced with these type of cases ASAP.