Published: Sat, February 18, 2017
National | By Traci Kelley

ICE Agents Arrest Undocumented Domestic Abuse Survivor

ICE Agents Arrest Undocumented Domestic Abuse Survivor

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested an undocumented victim of domestic abuse while she was seeking a protective order against her abuser at an El Paso courthouse.

El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said at a news conference Thursday that while ICE officials continue to highlight the criminal history of Gonzalez, they have failed to address the issue of agents going into the courthouse to enforce immigration laws. El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar expressed her worry about what the news of the woman's arrest might do to an already-frightened community and told the Times that she's looking for ways to help.

Flores Camarena said she went to the protective order court on the 10th floor during Gonzalez' hearing because staffers alerted her to the presence of federal immigration agents.

Bernal wants the community to know the El Paso County attorney's office is committed to protecting crime victims and victims of domestic abuse regardless of immigration status. However, Bernal told KFOX that she had never seen immigration officers target a domestic violence victim before. She said she accompanied them to the courthouse doors, where they escorted Gonzalez onto the street. VAWA provides explicit confidentiality protections for undocumented survivors, including preventing immigration officers from using information provided by abusive partners and preventing officers from making arrests in courthouses if the survivor is there in connection with a protection order case.

Kiersten Stewart, the policy director for Futures Without Violence said in a statement sent to ATTN: that there are federal laws that should protect women from an incident like the one in El Paso.

The criminal report claims that Irvin (also spelled Ervin) Gonzalez had been deported six times since 2010 after arrests like possession of stolen mail, false imprisonment, and assault.

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But in a statement, Ice said that the woman was arrested on a felony charge of illegally re-entering the USA "after receiving a tip from another law enforcement agency indicating that a previously deported felon had illegally re-entered the United States".

Almost 700 people were detained last week in a series of Ice operations in cities from Los Angeles to NY, homeland security secretary John Kelly said in a statement on Monday.

As the protective order was granted on 9 February, Bernal said, an Ice agent sat through the proceedings in the courtroom. She said that ICE agents should resist helping domestic abusers by refusing to act on tips they may give about their partners.

"We will do everything in our power to get them the protection they need", she said.

According to their website, the ICE does not consider courthouses to be sensitive locations. Victims are beaten down physically and emotionally and reluctant to come forward without the fear of arrest, she said.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that more than 680 immigrants were arrested in a "targeted enforcement operations" across several cities in the US, from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York City, reports Politico.

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