New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the federal lawsuit filed by two Massachusetts district attorneys seeking to bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from state courthouses is “a fabulous development.”
Ocasio-Cortez, the Boston University graduate who vowed to abolish ICE while running for Congress last year, told reporters in a visit to Brookline on Saturday, “When it comes to ICE showing up in courtrooms, what we’re seeing right now is just a disturbing and consistent expansion with the way the current administration is using ICE to target folks that ideally should not be targeted.”
“Mounting the lawsuit is the right thing,” she continued. “The way that we’re going to resist the expansion of this administration is through local municipalities and through the exercising of state power as well, so I think it’s a fabulous development.”
On Monday, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan filed a lawsuit to keep ICE agents out of state courthouses. The same day, ICE agents arrested two illegal immigrants with links to gangs in two Suffolk courthouses. The week prior, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling charged Newton District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and a court officer with obstruction of justice for allegedly helping an illegal immigrant evade ICE agents last year.
President Trump, in a call to Boston Herald Radio on Wednesday, said the district attorneys, “are people that probably don’t mind crime.”
But Ocasio-Cortez — who visited First Parish in Brookline to stump for select board candidate and Brookline Town Meeting member Raul Fernandez — said she’s seen the fear ICE instills in people firsthand.
While campaigning in her heavily immigrant district in New York, “I would knock on the door and people would be really scared on the other side. They wouldn’t open,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I realized that families were terrified of ICE.”
“They were scared because ICE doesn’t present themselves in a forthright way — they don’t knock on a door like, ‘Hey, we’re ICE,’” she continued. “In this administration, and frankly in previous administrations, they would repeatedly break or flirt with the law … people were used to getting tricked.”
Ocasio-Cortez also said, “Trump is not the core of our issues, he’s the symptom.”
“Any person that tells you or implies that Trump is either our biggest problem or implies that getting rid of him is going to fix this country is not a leader,” she said, adding the Trump was elected because of the nation’s issues with poverty, racism and even “desperation.”
Ocasio-Cortez participated in two events with Fernandez, an associate dean at Boston University whom she met through the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground when she was a student. During a conversation on grassroots campaigning — tickets for which cost $100 each — and in a rally on Fernandez’s behalf, the congresswoman sought to inspire folks to run for office at all levels.
“Changing this country is not just about running for Congress,” she said. “It’s about running for select board, it’s about being on your PTA, it’s about running for city council, and it’s about getting civically engaged in ways that we haven’t as a country, as everyday people, in a really long time.”