Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson thinks courthouses should be “immigration enforcement-free zones,” reports the Washington Times.
“Courthouses are special,” he said in testimony before Congress Thursday, meaning that the government ought not target illegal immigrants who may be there–a status already granted to schools, hospitals, and places of worship. (RELATED: Immigration Enforcement Isn’t Smart, Obama Says)
The issue came up during the House Judiciary Committee’s Homeland Security Department Oversight hearing when Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) asked Johnson whether he thought courthouses ought be added to this list of “sensitive locations.”
“People have been apprehended by ICE when they went to the courthouse to pay a traffic ticket, to answer criminal charges, or to obtain a protective order. In one case a person was detained when he appeared in court to get married,” Nadler said. The ability to appear at courthouses is “essential for the protection of our constitutional rights,” and the spate of courthouse “enforcement actions” in recent months will intimidate immigrants and prevent them conducting important civic duties, he argued.
Johnson said he was “a little surprised” courthouses weren’t already considered sensitive locations and agreed that there ought be “a special policy.”