Yesterday, Federal Immigration Officers detained a Somali asylum seeker who appeared in a Portland courthouse to answer a drunken-driving charge.
It is the first detention in Maine that state officials and immigration lawyers are aware of since January when Donald Trump had his inauguration as President of the United States. Trump runs his administration on an anti-immigration platform, signing Executive Orders that aggressively enforce immigration laws as a priority of his presidency.
Agents of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement have, since then, doubled their efforts in carrying out arrests of immigrants in other state courts. That has drawn criticism from state officials, particularly from those that act like the Sanctuary States or with Sanctuary Cities and Counties. Immigration advocates have also criticized the move by federal immigration officials.
A spokesman for ICE has said that 28-year-old immigrant Abdi Ali has a history of misdemeanor crimes, which includes two assault convictions. Assault Defense attorney Tina Nadeau stated that her Somali client appeared in the Portland court on a DUI charge.
According to Nadeau, the appearance was wrapping up when three ICE agents went into the room to arrest Ali. According to the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, cases of OUI is usually not a serious offense that could lead to an immigrant’s deportation.
However, recently, some things are changing for US communities with foreign-born families as the current administration rolls out policies that affect everyone, regardless if they are documented or undocumented immigrants.
A spokeswoman for the court system of Maine stated that even though there is no specific local policy on immigration matters, court workers, in general, do not tip federal agents. However, pending cases are, of course, in public records.
A spokesman for the Portland police also commented that he has no knowledge of the local law enforcement providing federal agents with necessary information about Ali.