San Francisco’s top civic attorneys all support call to stop using courthouses as bait in immigration enforcement

City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and District Attorney George Gascón issue the following joint statement

SAN FRANCISCO (March 16, 2017) — Today we join in unified support of Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye’s request that ICE refrain from operating immigration dragnets at California courthouses.

As the chief justice so eloquently noted in her letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly: 

Our courts are the main point of contact for millions of the most vulnerable Californians in times of anxiety, stress, and crises in their lives. Crime victims, victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, witnesses to crimes who are aiding law enforcement, limited-English speakers, unrepresented litigants, and children and families all come to our courts seeking justice and due process of law. As finders of fact, trial courts strive to mitigate fear to ensure fairness and protect legal rights.

The work of our courts is critical to ensuring public safety and the efficient administration of justice. Enforcement policies that drive victims away from the courthouses — whether they be victims of crime or unfair labor practices — undermine the administration of justice. If witnesses are afraid to come to court and testify — for any side in a case — justice is not served and everyone loses. As Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye observed:

[E]nforcement policies that include stalking courthouses and arresting undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom pose no risk to public safety, are neither safe nor fair.

They not only compromise our core value of fairness, but they undermine the judiciary’s ability to provide equal access to justice.

We wholly concur with the chief justice and join her respectful request that the federal government refrain from this sort of enforcement in California’s courthouses.