Bill Text: NJ AR268 | 2016-2017 | Regular Session | Amended

Bill Title: Opposes recent arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in courthouses in State.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 5-0)

Status: (Passed) 2017-06-22 - Filed with Secretary of State [AR268 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2016-AR268-Amended.html

[First Reprint]








Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  JOHN F. MCKEON

District 27 (Essex and Morris)


District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)






     Opposes recent arrests by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on courthouse premises in the State.



     As reported by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 15, 2017, with amendments.


An Assembly Resolution opposing recent arrests 1[in courthouses] on courthouse premises1 by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.


Whereas, On June 5, 2017, the Assembly Judiciary Committee heard testimony concerning the recent arrests of immigrants 1[in courthouses] on courthouse premises1 in this State by agents of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE); and

Whereas, Among the witnesses testifying before the committee were attorneys representing immigrants' rights, representatives of the State Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the State Coalition to End Domestic Violence, the American Civil Liberties Union, and representatives of other groups; and

Whereas, Witnesses testified to a dramatic increase in ICE arrests across the country over the past five months, including numerous incidents of arrests in criminal court, civil court, family court, and municipal court; and

Whereas, In February 2017, an immigrant was arrested in El Paso, Texas, moments after she was granted a restraining order against her abusive ex-boyfriend; and

Whereas, In March 2017, an immigrant was arrested in Oakland County, Michigan when he went to family court to seek custody of his three children, who lived with his ex-wife and her abusive boyfriend; apparently the ICE agents had been alerted by the ex-wife; and

Whereas, In New Jersey, there have been at least six ICE arrests 1[in New Jersey courthouses] on courthouse premises1, and several arrests 1[in] on1 municipal court 1premises1; and

Whereas, Specific examples in New Jersey include the March 17, 2017 arrest of an immigrant at a pre-trial intervention hearing in Superior Court in Passaic County, and the March 31, 2017 arrest of an immigrant who had received probation at a sentencing hearing in Superior Court in Middlesex County; and

Whereas, In another incident in the State, an immigrant who was eligible for a special visa because he had assisted law enforcement in solving a crime was arrested 1[in] on1 municipal court 1premises1 when he appeared there on a minor offense; and

Whereas, Witnesses at the Assembly Judiciary Committee meeting provided numerous examples of situations in New Jersey where immigrants have avoided the court system out of fear of arrest, including an immigrant mother whose son was arrested on the way to school but who refused to call the police; a domestic violence victim too afraid to file for a restraining order against her abuser; and a mother attempting to get custody of her son who felt compelled to cancel an upcoming Family Court appearance out of fear that ICE agents might be in the 1[court house] courthouse1; and

Whereas, The New York Times reported in April 2017 that since the presidential election in November 2016, there has been a sharp downturn in reports of sexual assault and domestic violence among Latinos throughout the country, which many experts have attributed to fears of deportation; for example, the newspaper reported, in Houston, Texas, the number of Latinos reporting rapes has fallen by more than 40 percent from the same period last year; and

Whereas, In response to the arrests in New Jersey, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court wrote a letter to John F. Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security, on April 19, 2017, urging that arrests by ICE not take place in State courthouses;  and

Whereas, In his letter, Chief Justice Rabner wrote that pursuant to written ICE policy, arrests should generally not take place in "sensitive locations" such as schools, hospitals, houses of worship, and sites of public demonstrations, and the Chief Justice requested that courthouses be added to this list of "sensitive locations"; and 

Whereas, The Chief Justice further wrote that State courts and officials have cooperated for years with detainer requests from ICE and other agencies for the surrender of criminal defendants, and noted that this practice is different from carrying out a public arrest in a courthouse for a civil immigration violation, which sends a chilling message; and

Whereas, However, according to reports, arrests in courthouses 1and on courthouse premises1 in the State have continued to take place following the Chief Justice's letter; and

Whereas, When immigrants are reluctant to enter a courthouse because they fear arrest, the consequences for the justice system are significant.  As one witness at the Assembly Judiciary Committee meeting stated: "Our justice system cannot function if victims, witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants are afraid to enter the courtroom. We are all less safe."; now, therefore,


     Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:


     1.    This House declares its opposition to arrests by the 1United States1 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency 1[in courthouses] on courthouse premises1 in this State and requests that such arrests not take place except for emergency situations.

     2.    Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly to the Secretary of Homeland Security, the President of the United States, the majority and minority leaders of the United States Congress, and to each member of Congress elected from this State.