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The badge of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team is seen in Santa Ana, California,...

Judge halts immigration arrests at Massachusetts courts

BOSTON (AP) — A judge has barred federal authorities from arresting people at Massachusetts courthouses for civil immigration violations while a lawsuit challenging the practice plays out.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani issued the decision Thursday in the lawsuit brought against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in April by public defenders and two Massachusetts prosecutors.

The lawsuit alleges the practice is scaring victims and defendants away from court and making it harder for prosecutors to hold people accountable.

The judge’s ruling blocks ICE from arresting people as they are arriving at, leaving or attending a court hearing.

It doesn’t affect the agency’s ability to arrest people on civil violations when they’re already in custody or detain people on criminal matters.

An email was sent to an ICE spokesman Thursday.