Published: Sat, February 18, 2017
USA | By Cassandra Hanson

ICE agents arrest alleged domestic abuse victim in court

ICE agents arrest alleged domestic abuse victim in court

Federal immigration agents arrested an undocumented transgender woman in Texas last week just moments after she obtained a protective order against her alleged abuser - and her abuser may have tipped off the agents.

'She had been kicked, punched, slapped, she had been chased around with a knife, she had a knife thrown at her, ' County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal told ABC 7. In the case of immigrant and undocumented survivors, abusive partners often leverage the victim's immigration status to control their behavior and create a great deal of fear by threatening to report them to ICE, have them deported or, in many instances, separate them from their children.

County officials want to make clear that the courthouse is not a place for the enforcement of immigration laws, but "a place where victims of domestic violence come for protection", Bernal said. The criminal complaint states that the arrest took place on the street, but Bernal said that it happened inside of the courthouse; she told the El Paso Times that six immigration agents showed up on 10th floor of the building. It says that ICE agents were "conducting surveillance" at the courthouse "in attempts of seeing" her, then took the woman into custody when she walked out.

Federal immigration officials reportedly arrested an illegal immigrant in Texas who was seeking help for domestic violence. He said a domestic violence victim's legal status should not matter when they're reporting a crime or offering testimony. The news comes amid ramped up deportation efforts across the United States at the behest of President Donald Trump.

The alleged victim - who had previously been deported six times and arrested for stealing mail, false imprisonment, and assault - was detained and questioned after leaving the court.

Judge Escobar said El Paso, a border town with a significant immigrant population, has garnered a reputation as one of the safest cities of its size in the country because local law enforcement has good relations with documented and undocumented community members.

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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. County officials suspect Ice acted on a tip-off from her alleged abuser, since he was the only other person given written notice of the hearing.

"The legislation was meant to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime, and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity", according to the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services website. She was driven to the the court by an advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, according to The Washington Post.

"If we only protected people with ideal records, we'd all be out of a job", she said.

The ICE affidavit also lists several crimes Gonzalez apparently has been convicted of since 2010.

"We hope this is an isolated incident", Bernal continued. "If victims of crime aren't willing to come forward, that really endangers the whole community".

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

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