The courthouse arrests come as the Trump administration has renewed efforts to counter sanctuary jurisdictions, arguing they interfere with federal immigration enforcement.
This week, President Trump said the federal government will begin withholding grants from sanctuary cities and states, after an appeals court in Manhattan ruled they have the authority to do so. U.S. Attorney General William Barr said last month that public areas of courthouses must be accessible to federal law enforcement officers.
A California law that took effect this year, Assembly Bill 668, which prohibits civil arrests in courthouses without a judicial warrant, which the agents did not have.
“California law explicitly forbids a civil enforcement agency like ICE from making a civil arrest without warrant outside of a courthouse,” Raju said.
But the Trump administration argues that immigration agents have the authority to make courthouse arrests without judicial warrants. While ICE generally avoids immigration enforcement at “sensitive locations” such as schools, churches and hospitals, it does not treat courthouses that way.
The undocumented Mexican national who was detained in San Francisco on Tuesday had three felony convictions for second-degree burglary from 2016, 2017 and 2019, according to ICE. The agency identified him as 43-year-old Alberto Uc Ponce.
The agency said it arrested him near the courthouse because local law enforcement had refused to turn him over to ICE several times. The agency said local jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with ICE are likely to see an increase of arrests in the community, as agents are less able to detain immigrants at jails.
David Jennings, field office director for ICE in San Francisco, blamed sanctuary policies.
“Criminals like this individual are released to reoffend again and again,” said Jennings in a statement. “A simple phone call to ICE to arrange the secure transfer of such individuals would serve the hard-working residents of the city far more than a misguided sanctuary policy that, as proven here and numerous times in the past, goes to great lengths to protect criminals under the guise of protecting the citizenry.”