Boston, MA– A Newton, MA district judge and a retired court officer are now facing federal charges for helping an undocumented immigrant escape from ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph and former court officer Wesley MacGregor are accused of helping a defendant, who is undocumented, get out the back door of a Newton District Court while an ICE agent was waiting to arrest him.
This story has sparked controversy on both sides of the aisle. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling tried to set the record straight by saying this isn't about politics, or about the immigration debate whatsoever, but this is simply justice for people who are accused of breaking the law: "We did not bring this case in response to the public debate over immigration enforcement. There are reasonable arguments on both sides of that debate," Lelling said. "But this isn't a policy seminar — it's a law enforcement action."
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, didn't see it that way: "Today's indictment is a radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts... This matter could have been appropriately handled by the Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Trial Court. I am deeply disappointed by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling's misuse of prosecutorial resources and the chilling effect his actions will have."
Joseph and MacGregor are being charged with conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and obstruction of a federal proceeding. They pleaded not guilty and are due to appear in Federal court on Thursday.
As someone who has worked in immigration law on the border of U.S. and Mexico, I find this debate slightly beside the point. The real issue here is an archaic legal system with regards to immigration, and the necessary and difficult work that needs to take place to improve it.
But it's a lot less work for both sides to just yell about ICE, I suppose.