The head of the Philadelphia Bar Association on Monday compared ICE to a “police state” and called on lawyers, judges and other courthouse personnel to resist the agency when its officers attempt to make arrests at city courthouses.

Bar Chancellor A. Michael Snyder, a retired judge, asserted that the arrests violate illegal immigrants’ due process rights and go against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s own internal rules.

He said they were “aided and abetted” by courthouse staff who stood by and didn’t intervene.

“Such actions are hauntingly reminiscent of those of a police state, calling to mind the actions of a secret or state police,” Mr. Snyder said. “We call upon law enforcement agencies, local governments, and court administration to prevent the access of ICE agents into courthouses, and to act to protect the rights of individuals lawfully within those facilities from harassment or arrest by ICE agents, whether uniformed or not.”

The clash over sanctuary cities has escalated in recent months, with states and localities feeling more emboldened and the Trump administration seeking new tactics.

ICE says courthouse arrests have always been part of its operations. The agency says picking someone up in a courthouse is more secure than making an arrest out in the community, since the target has gone through security and is not carrying weapons.

Sanctuary city backers say arrests at courthouses might frighten illegal immigrants from showing up for their hearings.

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