Mass. Judges Call ICE Deportations Of Local Defendants 'Affront To Justice'

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Chief Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Trial Court have sent a letter to the Acting Field Director for ICE, communicating their displeasure with ICE for deporting defendants who were in the middle of the trial process.

Writing to ICE Acting Field Office Director Todd Lyons, SJC Justice Ralph Gants and Trial Court Justice Paula Carey called the deportations, which happened without advance notification to the court or the district attorney, "an affront to justice."

"We hope this most recent deportation is a departure from ICE policy rather than consistent with it," they wrote.

The letter is yet another escalation of tension between local and state officials and federal immigration authorities. It is also a follow to a similar letter sent last fall, where the justices asked the previous ICE acting field director to stop deporting people awaiting trial.

In that first letter, the justices cited 13 cases in which undocumented defendants were deported before they could be tried in Massachusetts. They sought confirmation from ICE's previous acting director "that ICE will cease that practice."

ICE did not respond to the letter, but the justices noted there had not been any similar cases since the first letter was sent, so they thought perhaps ICE got the message.

"We had hoped that this reflected a change in policy arising from the recognition by ICE of the adverse impact on law enforcement, victims, defendants, and the interests of justice caused by such pretrial deportations," the justices' letter read.

However, the judges wrote, they recently learned of a case where a man awaiting a trial on cocaine trafficking charges was taken into custody by ICE and then deported before his next court date.

The judges make the case that the deportation greatly complicates the man's prosecution, as efforts would have to be made to bring him back in order to make him face justice for his alleged crime.

"Now, if the district attorney wishes to pursue this prosecution, she must seek the assistance of the Department of Justice and the Department of State to extradite the defendant back to Massachusetts from the Dominican Republic," the judges wrote.

WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports

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