A federal appeals court today dismissed a preliminary injunction that had barred ICE agents from arresting immigrants appearing in Massachusetts court cases during a suit against the practice by district attorneys in Suffolk and Middlesex counties and several civil-rights groups.
A judge in US District Court n Boston, Indira Talwani, had issued the temporary ban based on her consideration that the DAs had a high probability of success in proving that laws dating to the 17th century in England protected people showing up in court on one case from being arrested or detained for civil matters in another court. But the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston ruled today that was in error; that the common-law doctrine had never been used in immigration cases and that while immigration arrests are, technically, civil matters, they are close enough to criminal cases, since they are brought by "the sovereign," that the principle would not apply anyway.
The ruling does not mean that Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins and Middlesex DA Marian Ryan and the civil-rights groups have lost the case; the appeals court sent the case back to Talwani to hear the case and the arguments against courthouse arrests on other grounds. But it also means that immigrants can once again be detained by ICE in state courts pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
In a statement, Rollins said the fight is "far from over:"
We will review and consider all of our options and move forward in a way that honors the people of Suffolk County, their families and basic human and civil rights. We are absolutely on the right side of justice here. It is never a loss when you are fighting for human rights, justice, and building a safer community.