ICE agents arrest alleged domestic abuse victim in court

Posted February 18, 2017

In a text message Thursday, El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar called the account misleading.

But she and other officials said protective-order courts are not the place for immigrant detentions. Another camera shows them going through metal detectors and showing ID to a sheriff's deputy. The camera in front of the courthouse shows the men walking the woman to a waiting vehicle at 9:45 a.m.

Many did not have criminal convictions and appeared to have been picked up by officials initially seeking someone else, adding to alarm among advocates who are anxious that the government is now pursuing a less targeted strategy than under President Obama.

According to court documents, Gonzalez was deported multiple times but kept returning, which is a felony under United States law.

'There were six ICE agents on the 10th floor, ' she said. Agents were conducting surveillance at the the county courthouse on February 9 in an effort to catch Gonzalez, the affidavit said.

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This news comes on the heels of immigration raids across the country. "A person would be considered violent if there was a warrant out for them", the county attorney said. The agents then took her into custody after she admitted she wasn't in the country legally, the affidavit says. Just after Gonzalez was granted her order, Flores Camarena accompanied her and her advocate into a jury room just outside the courtroom and warned the advocate of the presence of federal agents, who were in plainclothes, Flores Camarena said.

The American Civil Liberties Union also issued a statement Thursday calling for Gonzalez to be released, and for the agency to denounce enforcement actions against people seeking help as victims of crimes. These cases, she said, "absolutely have an impact" on the immigrant community, in terms of their willingness to report domestic violence or other crimes.

Bernal is now setting up a meeting with the local ICE director to make sure this doesn't happen again, and she has launched an investigation into the incident. "I think an unfortunate outcome of some of the recent immigration actions that we've seen is that victims of all sorts of crimes will be scared to report".

The El Paso Times notes that someone with the same name has been previously deported and has a record including an assault charge, but it's not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to be charged with assault themselves.

"I can not recall an instance where ICE agents have gone into the domestic violence court, specifically looking for a victim of domestic violence", Bernal said.

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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.

"It really was a stunning event", El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal told the Washington Post.

According to Bernal, Gonzalez also identifies as transgender. They include mail theft and domestic violence. "There's no place for that - especially in family court", Bernal said.

She said she can not provide the survivors with assurance that this incident was a one-off, though she is telling them that the center and county officials will do "everything in our powers" to make sure they are safe and protected.

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