The chief justice of the California Supreme Court wants immigration agents to stop "stalking" undocumented immigrants in state courthouses.
Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye addressed state legislators Monday and emphasized the importance of maintaining the balance of power among the branches of government.
The chief justice wrote a letter to top federal officials last week explaining her concerns about recent reports of immigration agents going to the courts to track down immigrants for arrest, saying the practice will affect the public's confidence in the court system.
In an interview recorded Friday with KQED, the chief justice defended using the word "stalking."
"It is a strong word. I use it intentionally," Cantil-Sakauye said. "It may not be what their exact intention is but that's how victims feel, that's how the public begins to feel about that kind of behavior."
Cantil-Sakauye said ICE has obviously stepped up enforcement activities and are targeting courthouses.
Many advocates for immigrants and victims decry the practice, saying immigrants will be afraid to report crime or show up for hearings.
"There will be fewer witnesses against 'bad guys' and I can't believe that would be the intent of their actions if they thought about that," Cantil-Sakauye said.
The letter was sent earlier this month to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement had no immediate comment on the letter.
Cantil-Sakauye, an appointee of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, did not mention Trump in Monday's speech but warned that division in the country could be detrimental to democracy.