PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents arrested a man from Somalia at Portland courthouse Thursday morning but did not release why he was arrested.
According to I.C.E. Public Affairs Officer Shawn Neudauer, agents arrested Abdi Farah Ali. Neudauer said Ali has an extensive criminal history, which includes numerous misdemeanor convictions, including two convictions for assault.
Ali was in court Thursday for an arraignment for an O.U.I. charge to which he pled not guilty, according to the Cumberland County District Court judicial marshals Sergeant Keith Jensen.
Jensen said I.C.E. had a warrant for Ali's arrest, but could not say what that warrant was for. Neudauer did not say what the warrant was for either.
Tina Heather Nadeau corroborated the story. She said she was acting as the "Lawyer of the Day," and was working with Ali when he was arrested. She said Ali was an asylum-seeker.
"As soon as I heard ICE, a shiver ran through my body," said Nadeau.
ICE officers took Mr. Ali into custody, in accordance with agency protocols, after Mr. Ali tried to resist arrest, according to Neudauer. He said Mr. Ali is currently in ICE custody, pending removal proceedings.
Nadeau said she then went into the courtroom and, in front of other immigrants, stated on public record about the arrest that occurred.
"When they heard this or their interpreters translated it for them, you could feel how tense people were. People were very, very concerned that -- is ICE going to come to get me next?" said Nadeau.
Nadeau said she and the colleagues she contacted are not aware of situations where ICE agents arrested people at courthouses.
"This is something that we're going to have to be hyper-aware of at this point and it just makes representing people with questionable immigration status that much more difficult," said Nadeau. "This obviously raises the stakes immeasurably for those people."
Neudauer listed a number of reasons why an arrest would or could take place at a courthouse.
While ICE does arrest targets at courthouses, generally it’s only after investigating officers have exhausted other options:
§ Many of the arrest targets ICE has sought out at or near courthouses are foreign nationals who have prior criminal convictions in the U.S. In years past, most of these individuals would have been turned over to ICE by local authorities upon their release from jail based on ICE detainers.
§ When criminal custody transfers occur inside the secure confines of a jail or prison, it’s far safer for everyone involved, including our officers and the person who’s being arrested.
§ Now that many law enforcement agencies no longer honor ICE detainers, these individuals, who often have significant criminal histories, are released onto the street, presenting a potential public safety threat. When ICE Fugitive Operations officers have to go out into the community to proactively locate these criminal aliens, regardless of the precautions they take, it needlessly puts our personnel and potentially innocent bystanders in harm’s way.
§ Moreover, tracking down our priority fugitives is highly resource intensive. It’s not uncommon for our criminal alien targets to utilize multiple aliases and provide authorities with false addresses. Many do not have a stable place of employment.
§ Absent a viable address for a residence or place of employment, a courthouse may afford the most likely opportunity to locate a target and take him or her into custody.
§ Additionally, because courthouse visitors are typically screened upon entry to search for weapons and other contraband, the safety risks for the arresting officers and for the arrestee are substantially diminished.
§ In such instances where deportation officers seek to conduct an arrest at a courthouse, every effort is made to take the person into custody in a secure area, out of public view, but this is not always possible.