Press Release

Attorney General Ellison joins fight to halt immigration arrests at state courthouses

Joins coalition of 14 AGs in amicus brief supporting Washington State lawsuit against DHS, ICE, and CBP

January 17, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) —Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today joined a coalition of 14 attorneys general in supporting a lawsuit to halt federal immigration arrests of noncitizens in and around state courthouses across the nation when federal agents do not have a judicial warrant or court order. In an amicus brief filed in State of Washington v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; et al., the coalition argues in support of Washington State's request for a preliminary injunction to immediately halt such arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“The legitimacy of our entire judicial system rests on people’s trust that they will be treated fairly no matter who they are, with no exceptions. It rests on people’s trust that courthouses are places where justice is impartially administered, not where fear is deliberately sown,” Attorney General Ellison said. “With its warrantless arrests in the courthouses of our state and states across the country, the Trump Administration has knowingly violated that trust. As Minnesota’s chief legal officer and the people’s attorney, I cannot stand by and watch it happen. Today I’m supporting the fight to stop it.”

Last month, the Office of the Washington State Attorney General sued ICE, the CBP, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), among others, arguing that the federal government’s policy and practice of arresting noncitizens — both undocumented and those with legal status alike — at or around state courthouses violated the Administrative Procedure Act, the Tenth Amendment, and the right of access to courts, which is protected by the First, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Washington filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to immediately halt the Trump Administration’s policies.

Today, Attorney General Ellison and a coalition of attorneys general from around the nation filed an amicus brief in support of Washington’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. In the brief led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, the coalition argues that the federal government’s arrest practice, common in the states that are a party to the brief, violates a common-law privilege against civil arrests at courthouses. The amicus brief further maintains that the federal government’s practice of conducting civil immigration arrests is deeply harmful to the effective functioning of Minnesota’s and the other states’ judicial systems.

Moreover, ICE courthouse arrests disrupt court functions, trample the due-process rights of the accused, imperil public safety, and deter immigrants from reporting crimes. By using the court system to trap immigrants for detention and deportation, ICE is effectively keeping immigrants from ever accessing state courts in the first place and actively interfering with and violating the rights of individuals, associations, and organizations across Minnesota.

Attorney General Ellison joins New York Attorney General Letitia James and the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia in filing today’s brief. A copy of the brief is available on New York Attorney General James’s website.