Chief Defender Keisha Hudson, joined a press conference organized by Juntos to protest Federal ICE agents’ practice of detaining undocumented clients, witnesses and family members outside of Philly’s courtrooms. Full remarks below:
The Defender Association of Philadelphia represents over 70% of the people accused of crimes in the city. All of our clients are poor, most of them are people of color and many of them undocumented city residents.
All of these groups have one thing in common: a fraught relationship with our justice system. As public defenders, it is our job to provide the best possible legal counsel to our clients.
But mistrust in our system often makes it difficult to get them, as well as witnesses from the community and even supporters and family members, to fully participate in the legal process.
Enforcement of immigration laws does not mean interfering with our ability to deliver justice for our clients and communities. But that’s exactly what’s happening here.
ICE’s practice of literally seizing individuals as they step foot outside of this courthouse undermines the court’s ability to provide equal access to justice and shatters confidence in the safety of the courthouse and the judicial system–not just among the undocumented, but the general public.
We’ve raised this issue with the leadership of the First Judicial District. We’re hopeful that the Courts will work with us to find solutions to curb the very serious threat ICE’s actions pose to the integrity and effectiveness of Philly’s justice system.