In a letter sent Thursday, Nov. 21, U.S. Attorney General William Barr criticized Oregon's new court rules that block federal immigration agents from making arrests at or near courthouses unless officers have a judicial warrant. The letter also warned Washington state's supreme court chief justice against adopting similar rules.
Barr said the rules don't apply to federal immigration officers and urged the states to not "adopt or enforce court rules."
Last week, Oregon's Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters announced new rules that block immigration arrests at or near the state's courthouses, unless the officers have signed judicial warrants.
Barr's letter is addressed to both Walters and Washington Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst, who is considering similar rules.
Barr told the justices Congress has said immigration officers don't need warrants signed by a judge. He added that under the supremacy clause of the Constitution, the rules "cannot and will not govern the conduct of federal officers."
"Given the clear public danger posed by these state laws and policies, we urge you not to adopt or enforce court rules that would make the situation worse by purporting to require ICE or CPB to obtain a judicial arrest warrant prior to making an administrative arrest for deportation," Barr wrote.
Walters declined through a spokesperson to comment.
The new rules follow several high-profile arrests made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at courthouses around the Northwest. Activists and some officials have worried the arrests have a chilling effect on immigrants who want to access the justice system.
New York's and New Jersey's courts have issued similar statewide rules. Last month, California lawmakers passed similar protections for immigrants.
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