An undocumented woman was arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week in El Paso, Texas while she was in the process of receiving a protective order from a County Courthouse against her partner. The woman alleged that she was a victim of domestic violence.
County officials were disturbed by her arrest, noting that it might leave other undocumented victims of abuse fearful of coming forward. “Our clients come to us at the lowest point in their lives,” El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said. Bernal’s office works specifically with victims of domestic violence seeking court-mandated protected orders against their abusers.
“Many of them are so frightened of coming to us because of possible immigration concerns,” Bernal said. She added that ICE allegedly arrested the woman after receiving a tip from her alleged abuser.
“We will do everything in our power to get [victims of abuse] the protection they need,” Bernal said. She explained that immigration status is not an issue that her office looks into before helping victims. Her office is investigating the incident.
This case begs the question of who is being targeted by ICE. Nearly 700 immigrants were targeted in raids across the country last week, including 23-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, Daniel Ramirez Medina who lives in Seattle, WA. An agent reportedly told him, “It doesn’t matter, because you weren’t born in this country.”
If Ramirez was targeted by ICE intentionally, he could be the first DACA recipient detained under Trump’s immigration raids, but his case also prompted questions about the scope of ICE’s powers in detaining and deporting undocumented people.
According to Bernal’s office, the woman who was detained in El Paso had filed three police reports last year, claiming that her partner had punched and kicked her, and chased her with a knife.
El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar told the El Paso Times, “The fact that this occurred in a protective-order court is shocking to me.”