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Congresswoman Clarke Urges Access to Justice for Every American

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement on a letter she and several colleagues sent to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to share their concerns about the interrogation, detainment, and processing for removal of American who lack legal status who have appeared in courthouses to access services.

Previously, Immigration and Customs Enforcement had refrained from such activities in “sensitive locations,” such as courthouses and other government buildings, schools, religious institutions, and hospitals, unless there were exceptional circumstances. But, recently, there have been reports  in several states that immigration officials have been sent to courthouses to question people suspected of lacking legal status, a suspicion typically based on the person’s ethnicity or their preference for a language other than English.

“The right of access to the courts has been considered fundamental to our society for centuries. Indeed, the First Amendment protects the right of every American, both citizen and non-citizens – to petition the government for redress of grievances, and the Fifth Amendment establishes our right to due process of law. Without the ability to visit a courthouse without fear of reprisal, millions of Americans without legal status effectively cannot exercise their rights,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “We ask Secretary Johnson to provide instructions to Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel to conduct enforcement in sensitive locations only when absolutely necessary.”

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security, where she is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. She represents many neighborhoods in central and southern Brooklyn, NY which include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.

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