ICE Arrests Undocumented Domestic Violence Victim Moments After Obtaining A Protective Order
- Author: Larry Hoffman Feb 16, 2017,
Feb 16, 2017, 19:47
An undocumented woman was arrested at the El Paso County Courthouse last week while pursuing a protective court order for alleged domestic violence, El Paso Times reports.
"Our clients come to us at the lowest point in their lives", Bernal told the paper.
'Many of them are so frightened of coming to us because of possible immigration concerns'.
Bernal, however, told multiple local news outlets that the person who tipped off authorities may have been De Avila, the woman's alleged abuser. According to Bernal, under county policy, officials do not ask crime victims about their immigration status in order to guarantee that they are given fair treatment under the law.
El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar said the "fact that this occurred in a protective-order court is shocking" to her.
Stephanie Kerr, the director of the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, which runs a local shelter and offers counseling to abuse survivors in El Paso, said that the arrest is particularly unsafe given that the heightened fear created by the recent wave of ICE raids in the area makes it even more hard than usual for survivors to come forward and seek support. On Feb. 10, a 23-year-old man who was granted protection under Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, was seized by agents in what some immigration rights activists believe is an unprecedented act.
Documents filed at El Paso County Courthouse in Texas on February 9 show that the victim, a transgender woman, had been granted a protective order against her boyfriend, Mario Alberto De Avila.
"An incident like what happened in the courthouse last week really puts fear in people", Bernal said.
"I can not recall an instance where ICE agents have gone into the domestic violence court, specifically looking for a victim of domestic violence", she said. Bernal said she wasn't aware of the complaint. An ICE spokeswoman declined to comment Wednesday in response to questions from El Paso Times reporter Marty Schladen, who first wrote about the case. They escorted her down the hallway, into the elevator and outside the building, where they detained her, Bernal said. "There was a solemn promise from the executive branch that they would be protected".