A4 THE ASTORIAN • SATuRdAy, July 20, 2019 OPINION email@example.com KARI BORGEN Publisher JIM VAN NOSTRAND Editor Founded in 1873 JEREMY FELDMAN Circulation Manager JOHN D. BRUIJN Production Manager CARL EARL Systems Manager OUR VIEW ICE thumbs nose at local judge I mmigration and Customs Enforcement agents pep- per-spraying people in a Clat- sop County Courthouse corridor while sheriff’s deputies look on? Is this really a situation anyone should find acceptable? The latest example of using the courthouse as a hunting ground happened Thursday. A defendant accused of disgusting behavior — but who remains innocent in the eyes of the law and was not in state custody — attended court for a rou- tine hearing in preparation for an eventual trial. In light of previous ICE arrests there, family and sup- porters escorted the defendant as he departed. Federal agents moved in and extracted the man by deploy- ing a chemical spray and strong- arm tactics. A video appears to verify details of the encounter between ICE and the man’s nonviolent escort. One person “was sprayed 3 times in the eyes and in the mouth as she informed the ICE agents they needed a signed judicial warrant to take our client then was sprayed [less] than 3 inches away in the mouth and eyes along with our sup- porters,” according to a Thursday social media posting by Stephanie Serrano of Pacific County Immi- grant Support. Sheriff Tom Bergin was pro- vided advance notice of the ICE interdiction on county property. In his view, those accompanying the defendant are guilty of inter- fering with a police officer. How- ever, his belief apparently was not strong enough to lead to arresting AP Photo/Steve Helber ICE agents detain a person during a raid in Richmond, Va. anyone and thus eventually testing this legal theory with the prosecu- tor’s office or local judges. District Attorney Ron Brown said ICE’s local action was legal, though “not something we like to see at all.” The optics of all this are appall- ing. In normal times, ICE agents involved in a brouhaha in the legally sacrosanct precincts of a county courthouse at least might face professional discipline. Now- adays, ICE rarely even pretends to be accountable to citizen over- sight, and the sheriff is certain to be applauded within the echo chamber of those who believe all undocu- mented immigrants deserve imme- diate deportation. There are excellent reasons why federal agents shouldn’t be allowed to do what they did — reasons that should be appreciated by all Americans. Judge Paula Brownhill, the pre- siding judge of the Clatsop County Circuit Court, has said the practice of detaining people near the court- house can deter court appearances and has a serious impact on the administration of justice. “Not only criminal defendants, but civil litigants, crime victims, and witnesses may be reluctant to come to court for fear of encoun- tering ICE,” Brownhill said after an earlier ICE intervention. “If the district attorney is unable to prove a criminal case because an essen- tial witness fails to appear, or a domestic violence victim is unable to obtain a protective order because she is afraid to come to the court- house, our community is less safe for everyone.” The U.S. probably has at least 10 million residents who lack official right to be here. The vast major- ity of these abide by our laws in other respects and pay taxes in sup- port of government services like law enforcement. By scaring them away from cooperation with our judicial system, ICE is fostering an underclass of millions who can be victimized by criminals with- out recourse, and who have little incentive to take the risk of help- ing root out those criminals. This degrades all our neighborhoods — not just those heavily populated by immigrants. In this case, ICE made an exam- ple of a defendant who hardly any- one would defend from impris- onment and deportation if he is convicted. But ICE’s ham-handed arrest short-circuits the defendant’s ability to clear his name, and the state’s ability to prosecute him. It is hard to see this latest ICE arrest as anything other than a deliberate provocation and thumb- ing of the nose to Brownhill and other judges who have spoken out. This is a federal agency acting with a steadfast belief in its own impu- nity. Such an attitude ought to deeply disturb every citizen who believes in our own fundamental civil liberties, states’ rights and the rule of law. Trump, America is not your house D ear Donald Trump: Years ago, I got to visit Kweth- luk, an Alaskan town of fewer than 900 souls. It is an isolated place where the people, most of them Yup’ik and Eskimo, live on what the tundra provides: ptarmi- gan, moose, seal, salmonberries. I remem- ber standing upon that snowbound land- scape and marveling that I was further than I’d ever been from everything I’d ever known. It was a feeling I’d had once before, at a village in Niger. But this was differ- ent, because I’d needed no passport to get to Kweth- LEONARD luk. Though I stood in a PITTS distant place with people who did not look like me and whose traditions were not like mine, the marvel of it was that I was yet standing with fellow citizens, together in our coun- try. Because this was America, too. I doubt you would have understood that. Your vision of what makes an Ameri- can is too niggardly and cramped to allow it. Sunday, you offered superfluous proof of that failing in a series of tweets where you told four progressive congresswomen of color to “go back” to their own coun- tries and stop complaining about the United States. The four women are all American citizens. One, Rep. Ilhan Omar, is an immigrant from Somalia. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is a black woman born in Cincinnati; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cor- tez, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx; Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American from Detroit. Not that those facts really matter. Simi- larly, they are hardly the only ones to crit- icize this country. You, for instance, have called it “stupid,” “weak” and “pathetic.” But that doesn’t matter either. Not to the people to whom your tweets were directed. It would be naive not to recognize that you were performing for a particular audi- ence: the racially resentful white peo- ple of the GOP base. If the rest of us are — as I was in Kwethluk — energized and inspired by the vastness of America, they are threatened by it and terrified of it. Especially as representatives of that vast- ness rise to positions of prominence and power. You, like them, take for granted that America is your house, a white house where you make the rules, you set the standards and the rest of us live only by your sufferance. That’s the assumption embedded in your tweets: that you have the right to tell the rest of us to — apol- ogies to the Beatles — “get back to you where you once belonged.” But this has never been just your house, Donald, grandson of a German immigrant. It belongs to all of us, to every Yup’ik in Kwethluk, every Cuban in Miami, every black boy in Compton, every Muslim in Dearborn. We get to criticize it, we get to love it, we get to fight with it, we get to fight for it, because we built it. And we do not need your permission. “Go back where you came from?” We’ve heard that one often. It is less an expression of geographic reality — again, three of the women you slurred were born in the USA — than it is of white fear. The notion that you live here on probation if you are black or brown is one of rac- ism’s oldest canards. And it was not sur- prising to see members of your party offer tepid rebukes of your behavior or none at all, while stepping gingerly around the “r” word like a body on the sidewalk. American politics has never seen a more chicken-hearted bunch. But for all their cowardice, for all your cynicism, for all the fear some white peo- ple hold, you can count on the fact that the rest of us will not be denied, deterred or defeated. You are nothing we have not seen before. And still we rise. It would behoove you, then, to get over the idea that this is your house and you can order the rest of us to leave. If we can go back where we came from, guess what? So can you. leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald.