Why neighbors protecting family from ICE did not obstruct justice

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 07:18:31-04

HERMITAGE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents tried to take a man into custody, but neighbors helped him wait out the agents and even formed a human chain to allow the man and his son to get home.

It happened Monday morning in the area of Brooke Valley Drive and Forest Ridge Drive. The man got in his van with his son when an ICE vehicle blocked him in.

Related story: ICE tries to bring man in Hermitage in custody, neighbors form human chain to let them get home

Over the next few hours, neighbors came out to support their neighbor, bringing them water, gas, and wet rags so they could stay in their van. They eventually created a chain, allowing the father and son to run into their home. They were able to do so and ICE left.

Some questions have been raised about the neighbors role in the incident.

The ICE agent had an administrative warrant for the man. While that does allow ICE to detain someone, it doesn't allow ICE to forcibly remove someone from their home or vehicle.

Because it was an administrative warrant and not a judicial warrant, the neighbors' efforts are not an obstruction of justice.

Judicial warrants are signed by a federal judge and allow a law enforcement officer to arrest someone in any location. An administrative warrant is signed by an ICE official, not a judge, and only allows the arrest of someone if they are in a “non-REP” area – an area without a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

ICE officials often use administrative warrants in similar cases.