There is an internal investigation of Oregon Judge Monica Herranz is accused of helping him leave Multnomah County Court after she was accused of actively helping a Mexican immigrant evade immigration officials who wanted to arrest and possibly deport him.
Herranz is a pro temp judge appointed by the Supreme Court as a staff position.
Diddier Pacheco Salazar, 22, appeared before Herranz and pleaded guilty to a DUI case. Such a criminal offense would place him in the category of priority deportees for ICE under the new Trump policy. ICE agents waited for him to come out of the courtroom but he never emerged. When they went into the courtroom, he had vanished. The agents and U.S. Attorney concluded that he must have been allowed to depart through the judge’s private door. Besides the door used for the jail cells, it is the only exit in the courtroom and either the judge and/or staff must have allowed him to use it.
The U.S. Attorney noted that Herranz is on the board of the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association. The organization has been at the forefront in calling for resistance to the crackdowns on undocumented immigrants:
While we recognize and respect the variety of political perspectives within our community, we cannot condone language and actions which target immigrants, people who converse most comfortably in languages other than English, black and brown people, and other marginalized members of our community.
We recognize that many in our community, and particularly the Latino community, are grieving, afraid, uncertain of their future, and experiencing an increase in overt hostility from people around them. We commit to standing against hate, discrimination, and oppression without concern to political affiliation. We have not forgotten that we are also a community of immigrants, past and present, who have worked hard and contributed immeasurably to life in the United States.
As officers of the law, we stand for justice and human dignity. We pledge to resist any tendency to minimize or justify or ignore mistreatment of our most vulnerable citizens. We commit to a courageous vision of justice that tells the truth, even and especially those parts of the truth that we are most tempted to avoid or ignore.
Putting aside allegations of obstructing federal enforcement officers, there is a specific provision under INA Sec. 274. [8 U.S.C. 1324] on harboring aliens:
(a) Criminal Penalties.-. . .
(ii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, transports, or moves or attempts to transport or move such alien within the United States by means of transportation or otherwise, in furtherance of such violation of law;(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;. . .(v) 1/ (I) engages in any conspiracy to commit any of the preceding acts, or(B) A person who violates subparagraph (A) shall, for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs-i) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i) or (v)(I) 2/ or in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(ii), (iii), or (iv) in which the offense was done for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, 3/ be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both;(ii) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(ii), (iii), (iv), or (v)(II), 4/ be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both;
What is interesting is that the U.S. Attorney opted not to open a criminal investigation and the matter is solely being investigated as an internal court matter. Why? If the judge actively sought to obstruct the arrest of an individual, that would be a criminal act.
The use of court staff or facilities to assist in such acts would normally be viewed as an aggravating circumstance. This is more than a sanctuary city not assisting federal enforcement. This is actively secreting a potential arrestee by allowing the use of a door that the ICE agents may be barred from using or may be unaware exists.
Salazar, a Mexican-born construction worker, changed his plea at his second court appearance on January 27 in exchange for a deferred sentence and participation in a diversion program. Ironically, he was arrested two weeks later after another court appearance.
The court may have viewed ICE as making it an unwilling participant in his arrest by using the hearing.
However, does that justify these actions? In my view, it does not.