Immigration Law

Judge calls ICE if he thinks defendants in his courtroom are in US illegally

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A Cincinnati judge said he regularly calls U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when he suspects that defendants in his courtroom are in the country illegally.

Judge Robert Ruehlman of Hamilton County said he calls ICE more than 10 times per year, report WCPO, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Washington Post.

Ruehlman explained his criteria to WCPO. “It’s not racial profiling. It’s just common sense,” Ruehlman told the broadcast station. “They speak Spanish, they’re charged with carrying a lot of drugs, and they’re not from here. It’s pretty clear they’re illegal immigrants, you know, and if it turns out they are a citizen, then there’s no harm, no foul.”

Ruehlman told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he sets a high bond to keep the defendant in jail before he calls ICE. The agency checks the name and birth date to verify that the person is in the United States illegally. Then ICE puts a hold on the defendant to prevent the person from posting bail before trial.

Ruehlman said ICE usually takes over after the defendant is convicted and serves their sentence.

Ruehlman said he is “batting a thousand” in his assessment of which defendants are in the country illegally. “I haven’t got one wrong yet,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Ruehlman was first elected to the bench in 1987 and was last reelected to a six-year term in 2016.

Ruehlman is a judge on the court of common pleas. The court’s presiding and administrative judge, Charles Kubicki, said he wasn’t aware that Ruehlman was contacting ICE, and he’s not aware of any other judges doing so.

Kubicki told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he considers immigration issues to be between the defendant and the government. “I never call ICE,” he said. “I don’t know their number.”

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