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ICE Arrests Undocumented Man Inside Sacramento County Courtroom

LM Otero / AP

LM Otero / AP

UPDATED 4:38 p.m.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested an undocumented man inside Sacramento County Superior Court this week, sparking concerns from immigrant rights groups.

A court spokeswoman confirmed the arrest took place on Wednesday, but could not provide details.

ICE spokesman Richard Rocha confirmed the agency arrested a man at the courthouse on Wednesday. He wrote in an email that the arrest was "pursuant to a criminal arrest warrant issued by a Federal Magistrate Judge," but he declined to provide details on the person arrested or federal charges they face.

"As this is an ongoing federal criminal case, no additional information is available at this time," Rocha wrote.

Alex Gonzalez of Nor Cal Resist, an activist group that supports undocumented residents, said the action was unacceptable:

“We have been seeing these situations happen too many times,” he said. “And we do not want them to be taken away by ICE. Because that’s not OK. That’s just basically, they just keep tearing our community apart and we do not tolerate that here in Sacramento.”

Elizabeth Kim, board president for the National Lawyers Guild of Sacramento, also confirmed the arrest, which she said was unprecedented.

“In Sacramento, we have never seen this before — which is causing more alarm for the fact that this hasn’t happened before in this area,” Kim said. “When people come to court, they come with the understanding that courthouses should not be used as a bait to enforce immigration laws.”

Kim said attorneys present at the courtroom reported to her organization that the ICE agent waited in the courtroom gallery before standing up and arresting the undocumented man at his court appearance.

ICE officials in the past have said they’ve been forced to make arrests at courts because California’s sanctuary law restricts local law enforcement from cooperating with them, and Rocha said it was not unusual for the agency to make an arrest at a courthouse. He indicated that, due to state policy, it won't be the last such action.

"The State of California has made it difficult for ICE to streamline apprehending criminal aliens released from local custody and ICE will continue to use all other available methods to apprehend individuals when we know their expected locations — like at courthouses," Rocha wrote.

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s has criticized the federal government for arresting undocumented people at local courthouses, saying it makes people reluctant to take part in the court system.

Similar ICE arrests have taken place in recent weeks at the Fresno Superior Court.

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