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A Judge Says He Always Calls ICE When He Suspects A Defendant Is An Illegal Alien

Jason Hopkins on January 27, 2020

An Ohio judge said he calls Immigration and Customs Enforcement anytime he believes a defendant is in the U.S. illegally and his hunches have proven correct every time.

Judge Robert Ruehlman, who presides over the Common Pleas Court in Hamilton County, Ohio, takes a tough approach with those in his courtroom that are suspected of being an illegal alien. The Republican judge says if he believes a defendant is undocumented, he takes the unique step of calling ICE himself, according to a Jan. 22 interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The policy has garnered backlash from Democrats and others opposed to immigration arrests at courthouses.

Ruehlman looks for several clues to guess whether someone is an illegal alien: the individual in question needs an interpreter, has international connections or is accused of drug smuggling. The judge gives a ring to federal immigration authorities if some of these details describe the defendant.

“I set a high bond and I call ICE,” he told the Enquirer. “I’m batting a thousand. I haven’t got one wrong yet.”

Ruehlman, who first joined the bench in 1987, says he calls ICE around twelve times a year and has an exceptional relationship with ICE employees. Voters reelected him to a six-year term in 2016.

Attention over Ruehlman’s modus operandi comes after ICE made several arrests inside the Hamilton County Courthouse earlier in January, sparking reactions from people against and in support of cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Many ICE critics oppose the idea of the agency making courthouse arrests, arguing that the practice deters illegal aliens from approaching law enforcement altogether.

In Massachusetts, for example, a coalition of district attorneys filed a lawsuit in April 2019 to prevent ICE agents from making courthouse arrests. Later that year, an Obama-appointed federal judge sided with the plaintiffs. In one notable case, a Massachusetts judge stands accused of personally helping an illegal alien escape apprehension from an ICE agent. That judge is now charged with obstruction of justice.

Federal immigration authorities, on the other hand, argue that courtroom arrests are the safest way to apprehend an illegal alien. In courtrooms, individuals are typically run through a metal detector, removing the possibility of them being armed, and are expected there at a specific date and time. The arrangement makes apprehension much safer for all parties involved.

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