Protesters rallying at Meriden Superior Court say judicial marshals in our state are helping ICE “exploit” Connecticut court houses.
The state’s judicial marshal services says that’s just not the case.
Director of Judicial Marshal Services O’Donovan Murphy says despite claims from protesters, his agency only detains about 1/3rd of the requests they receive from ICE.
He says this percentage has been consistent since the state’s Trust Act went into effect a couple of years ago.
The Trust Act sets conditions for state and local law enforcement authorities for voluntarily cooperating with ICE.
“So the Trust Act narrowed it down to 7 factors. We primarily go by the fact that whether or not there is a final order, whether the person poses some unusual risk to the community, if they’re in the terrorism database, if they are a fugitive of justice in another state or they have an outstanding warrant in this state,” said Murphy.
Protesters say Wednesday’s rally is just the beginning of their campaign to demand changes like firing judicial marshals who enable ICE violence in court and banning ICE in court houses all together, according to CT Immigration Rights Alliance and other organizing groups in their rally invitation to the community.
“It’s very simple we want to hold a process that is broken accountable for misconduct of hate and segregation and discrimination against members of our community,” said Meriden City Councilman Miguel Castro, who is also behind the charge.
He spoke out at the rally Wednesday as he continues to be embroiled in a legal battle with the state. Castro is accused of assaulting two judicial marshals during an immigration protest last year. He says his arrest was unjustified.
“We want to open an investigation to determine the legitimacy of every state marshal in this court house have provided to state and local authorities. They have inflicted in one way or another pain and hardship to families in our community,” said Castro.
While the state’s director of Judicial Marshal Services can’t comment on Castro’s case, he wants to make it clear that his agency follows guidelines laid down by the state’s Trust Act.
"The ICE detainers are screened in a way that we make the final decision and no marshal has the ability to make that decision other than ourselves up at the administrative office and we go through a lot of hoops to make sure we’re doing it correct.”
Murphy understands immigration concerns are at the forefront of our country right now, but despite some public perception, he says the number of detainer requests they receive from ICE are down, as well as the number of their detainments.
According to judicial branch documents, ICE has requested about 370 detainers in the past 24 months from judicial marshal services and only about 100 were honored “and the public should know, one, we’re sympathetic to anybody being taken into custody not just ICE. There are people taken on warrants all the time and we’re sympathetic to that.”
Updates believed to toughen up the Trust Act were passed by state lawmakers this session, but protesters say they’ll be pushing for more protective legislation.
We reached out to ICE who says the goal of civil immigration enforcement inside courthouses is to “arrest and ultimately remove individuals from the U.S. who pose a public safety risk” like convicted felons and sex offenders, among others.