On July 24, 2017, a case focusing on a Cambodian refugee that had been convicted of several small crimes after entering the United States in 1985 came to a decision. Sreynuon Lunn, a Cambodian national born in a Thai refugee camp, was arrested earlier this year on a unarmed robbery charge, but was unable to post the $1,500 bail. Lunn was then held in the Boston area jail until his court date on February 6, at which the prosecutors dropped the case finding that they could not move forward with the trial.
Although he was set to leave jail, due to a request by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, Judge Michael Coyne refused to release Lunn. Lunn was then moved to federal immigration custody. Today, it was decided that Massachusetts officials do not have the authority to detain illegal immigrants solely to buy time for federal law enforcement officials to take them into custody. The court wrote, "Massachusetts law provides no authority for Massachusetts court officers to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a Federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from State custody […] It alleged that Lunn was subject to, and was being sought by the Federal authorities for the purpose of, the civil process of removal. It was not a criminal detainer or a criminal arrest warrant. It did not allege that the Federal authorities were seeking Lunn for a criminal immigration offense or any other Federal crime, for purposes of a criminal prosecution.”
This goes against the requests of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, which has previously held the right to hold illegal immigrants facing deportation in custody for up to 48 hours after their cases are resolved.
After being imprisoned many times before a recent unarmed robbery charge, Lunn was ordered to be deported to Cambodia. However, Cambodia declined to accept him, and he was released in 2008 into the Boston area. After this recent incident, neither country recognizes him as a citizen, but he is free in the Boston area today.
OUR VERDICT: This is a massive step in the direction for sanctuary cities and their legal rights. Many of the cases and complaints, including the executive order by Donald Trump, looked to undermine sanctuary cities. This step is a small action in cracking the judicial system and how much local and state officers can comply with federal officers.