BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - ICE agents will no longer perform immigration sweeps at Kern County courthouses, according to a letter sent earlier this month from a federal official to the southern California ACLU.
Activists complained that undocumented immigrants were arrested while paying fines or applying for marriage licenses.
In late October, Rosario Hernandez told 23ABC her boyfriend was arrested by ICE agents while paying a parking ticket.
“They arrested him in front of my daughter, and she walked over to him and he started crying, because it was the last time he would ever see us again,” she said during a protest in downtown Bakersfield.
ACLU lawyer Michael Kaufman sent a letter to ICE, writing that the courthouse sweeps “have impeded residents from complying with the law and accessing essential court services.”
“I call it a small victory, but people shouldn’t have to hide from everyday, regular activities,” said local immigration-rights activist Joey Williams.
“Nobody should be arrested or deported or detained for doing something routine.”
According to an LA Times report, ICE has a standing policy not to make arrests in what they deem sensitive locations, including schools, hospitals and churches.
In the January letter, ICE Executive Associate Director Thomas Homan said after a procedural review, enforcement at Kern County courthouses would be ceased, “except in exigent circumstances.”
23ABC reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for comment but hasn’t heard back.