San Francisco – The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) stands with Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye of the California Supreme Court in demanding that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly cease the practice of stalking and arresting undocumented immigrants in California’s courthouses. We share the Chief Justice’s concern that such stalking and arrests are jeopardizing the ability for courthouses to serve as a vital forum for ensuring access to justice and protect public safety.
On March 16, 2017, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye issued a letter to Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Kelly expressing concerns that courthouses were being used as “bait” in the enforcement of immigration laws. “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,” wrote the Chief Justice. “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.”
In a joint letter, Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Kelly responded to the Chief Justice, defending the practice of making federal arrests in state courthouses.
“As attorneys, we know all too well that our judicial system depends on the cooperation of victims, witnesses and litigants,” said AABA President Miriam Kim. “The practice of making federal arrests of undocumented immigrants in state courthouses raises the risk that individuals will fear appearing in court. When a victim of domestic violence or human trafficking fears testifying in court because of immigration enforcement tactics in courthouses, we undermine a court’s ability to ensure equal access to justice and protect public safety.”
AABA recognizes that courthouses must be free and open to all people to ensure the equal and fair administration of justice. We support and applaud Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s admonishment of policies that undermine access to justice and public safety.
For more information, contact AABA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AABA has a long history of active involvement in civil rights issues and community service, and is dedicated to fostering the exchange of ideas and information among its members and the public. AABA is one of the largest local Asian American bar associations in the country, and counts lawyers, judges, law students, and community leaders among its members, representing the entire spectrum of political, social, and legal concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area.