Colorado and Washington State Pass Courthouse ICE “Lockout" Bills
By Tanner Bonovitch | FAIR Take | April 2020
Colorado and Washington both enacted new laws aimed at stopping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from arresting illegal aliens in or around courthouses. This is a new trend among sanctuary states to further prevent the arrests of illegal aliens. This measure takes away a controlled environment, such as a courthouse, which requires screening of weapons before entering. The commonality among these policies is that they seek to implement more roadblocks on federal, state, and local officers to uphold our immigration laws.
Senate Bill (SB) 83, sponsored by Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) will:
- Prevent civil arrests while present at a courthouse or its environs, or while going to, attending, or coming from a court proceeding;
- Allow a judge or magistrate to issue a “writ of protection” to prohibit a civil arrest, enforceable by contempt;
- Require all on-duty law enforcement officers who aren’t employed by or contracted with courthouse security, or participating in a court proceeding, to present credentials and state the purpose of their presence to any existing courthouse security officer, who must maintain a record of the information; and
- Make any law enforcement officer who violates the law liable for damages in a civil lawsuit for false imprisonment.
Vocal opponents of the bill included Representatives Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs) and Tim Geitner (R-El Paso). Both legislators strongly cautioned their colleagues against trying to impose personal liability on individual law enforcement officers, instead of their agencies. Additionally, they warned the state might be subject to possible withholding of federal funds if this law was regarded as a sanctuary policy.
Both chambers voted for the bill on straight party lines. The Senate vote was 19 yeas to 13 nays, while the House voted 40 to 24. Shortly after the bill passed, President Trump took to Twitter, saying, “[a]s per a recent Federal Court ruling, the Federal Government will be withholding funds from Sanctuary Cities.”
Nonetheless, Governor Jared Polis (D) signed SB 83 into law on March 23. Due to the “emergency” clause in the bill, SB 83 takes effect immediately.
House Bill (HB) 2567, the so-called “Courts Open to All Act,” was sponsored by Rep. My-Linh Thai (D-Bellevue) and cosponsored by numerous House Democrats. In brief, it provides that:
- no person may be arrested for a civil offense on courthouse grounds or within a mile of “going to” or “returning from” accessing or attending a court facility; and
- judges, court staff, court security personnel, and prosecutors may not inquire into an individual’s immigration status or share this information with federal immigration authorities.
Although similar to Colorado’s bill, Washington’s does not provide any specific enforcement mechanism or consequences for law enforcement officers or agencies that make arrests at courthouses in violation of its terms.
Bill supporters such as the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network declared “they’re not proposing to interfere with officers’ jobs or federal law,” even though that’s exactly what the bill attempts to do.
In the Senate, the bill passed 28 to 20 with one Democrat joining all the Republicans to oppose it. In the House, it passed 55 to 43. Two Democrats joined all the Republicans to vote against the bill.
On March 25th, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed HB 2567 into law. It will go into effect on June 11th.