Ohio Judge Says He Looks for Three Things Before Calling ICE on a Defendant

A Cincinnati judge is under fire after admitting he regularly calls U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on suspected illegal immigrants in his court room.

Hamilton County Judge Robert Ruehlman told ABC affiliate WCPO last week that he has no qualms about alerting ICE when he believes a defendant may be undocumented.

“I call ICE in a minute. I have no problem calling ICE,” Ruehlman said.

According to WCPO, Ruehlman confessed to calling the immigration enforcement agency “10 to 20” times a year.

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He outlined the criteria he uses to identify potential illegal immigrants.

“It’s not racial profiling. It’s just common sense,” Ruehlman said. “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 also described the typical procedure for reporting someone who might be in the country illegally.

“I call [ICE]. I say, ‘I think we have an illegal immigrant here.’ And they confirm it,” Ruehlman said. “I give them the name and birthdate and where they’re from. They run them. They say, ‘Yeah.’ Then they go to the jail and they put a holder on them.”

Immigration activists aren’t thrilled by Ruehlman’s methods.

Nancy Sullivan, director of a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that supports recently arrived immigrants, told WCPO that she disagrees with Ruehlman’s tactics.

“I don’t think this is the best way to go about it,” she said. “Nobody wants a convicted criminal on the street who hasn’t served time or done whatever, but I think it has a very chilling effect on getting crime victims or witnesses to come to court.”

Some commenters on social media echoed Sullivan’s sentiments.

“Innocent until proven guilty?” queried one user.

“This is not someone who should be a judge,” said another commenter.

Still others had an even harsher assessment, saying Ruehlman “should be put on trial himself.”

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said that the agency’s officers are often forced to put themselves in harm’s way by going out into the community to track down “criminal aliens.”

The problem is exacerbated by many law enforcement agencies no longer honoring ICE detainers, Walls said in a statement obtained by WCPO.

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“Courthouses are sometimes the only location that ICE can expect a fugitive/criminal alien to appear at a scheduled time, and courthouse visitors are typically screened upon entry to search for weapons and other contraband, so the safety risks for the arresting ICE officers and for the arrestee are substantially diminished,” he added.

Cover image: Robert Ruehlman. (Screen grab)

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