By: Stephen Pemberton
The U.S. has been a beacon of optimism for generations of immigrants seeking enhanced employment prospects. From manual labor to the ever-growing technology sector, workers who emigrate to this country undoubtedly play an indispensable role in powering the American economy. Yet there are recent concerning developments that should give potential immigrants pause.
A fundamental right in the U.S. is access to the court system, and that right is a reassuring protection for immigrants who seek to avail themselves of the American economy. Traditionally, the law has extended full protections in regards to ensuring that this fundamental right is not infringed upon. Yet recently, policy directives originating from the Executive Branch have diminished the broad protections the American legal system affords both citizens and non-citizens alike.
Writing on behalf of the greater legal community, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court criticized the Department of Homeland Security’s recent decision to detain individuals that appear in state court on unrelated immigration charges. This policy, criticized by the Chief Justice as “compromis[ing] our system of justice,” has resulted in fear and distrust of the legal system among immigrants.
In his letter, the Chief Justice further pled that courthouses should be added to a list of “sensitive locations.” This designation would prohibit deportation officials from seizing individuals at courthouses while those individuals are present for an unrelated legal matter. Considering multiple immigration-related seizures have taken place at various New Jersey state courthouses since the arrival of the new administration, this issue should not be taken lightly.
The well-established principle that the legal system of the U.S. should be available to all individuals residing within, regardless of citizenship, must be preserved. We cannot let intimidating policies deter immigrants from keeping the economy of the U.S. healthy.