BOSTON (CBS) – Advocates are vowing to fight on for undocumented immigrants who are afraid they’ll be deported if they turn to the courts for help.

One man, an undocumented immigrant who was having problems with a threatening neighbor, said he was fearful of being deported if he went to a courthouse for help.

“He knew people and friends were telling him thatICE agents are in court, don’t go there,” an interpreter said.

Immigration and civil rights advocates say they are disappointed by Tuesday’s federal appeals court decision. That decision, overturning a judge’s ruling which temporarily prevented Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from making civil arrests at courthouses.

Middlesex County District Attorney said, “Courts are there to protect people – people are afraid to go to court that defeats the purpose, so the most important party they should be able to come and go do their business and not be in fear that the civil warrant that ICE may have will be executed against them.”

Middlesex County and Suffolk County district attorneys and others filed suit against ICE last year to stop the agency from looking for undocumented immigrants at courthouses. The filing, long in the works, came just weeks after District Court Judge Shelly Joseph was indicted for allegedly helping a man facing drug charges avoid federal authorities. That case is still pending.

Meanwhile, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said the courts have to let ICE do its job. “When we have federal agency, or state or local agency, that wants to get people into custody who have violated the law, we ought to be able to do it, certainly in a courthouse, which is a pretty safe place to do it.”

The district attorneys are reviewing all of their options and said the court battle will continue.

Cheryl Fiandaca

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