Federal immigration agents went to the El Paso County Courthouse last week and arrested an undocumented woman who had just received a protective order alleging that she was a victim of domestic violence.
The agents apparently detained the woman Feb. 9 after receiving a tip, possibly from her alleged abuser, whom they already had in custody, El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said.
The detention has alarmed Bernal and other county officials who fear that the arrest will scare undocumented victims of domestic abuse into staying with their abusers for fear of being deported and separated from their children or other family members.
But wait! There’s more!
However, a criminal complaint on file with the U.S. District Court in El Paso indicates that a person of the same name as the alleged victim might have a history of deportation and domestic violence.
Bernal was not aware of the complaint, filed by U.S. immigration officials, when she spoke about the arrest earlier in the day. She said, however, that her office cooperates with federal authorities when serious crimes are alleged.
But she and other officials said protective-order courts are not the place for immigrant detentions.
“Our clients come to us at the lowest point in their lives,” said Bernal, whose office represents domestic abuse victims when they seek court orders against their abusers. “Many of them are so frightened of coming to us because of possible immigration concerns.”
Bernal said her office is taking steps to relieve those fears in the wake of last week’s arrest.
The alleged abuser, Mario Alberto De Avila, is jailed on a charge of forgery of a financial document, the criminal complaint states.
Bad cops! No donuts!
But wait! There’s more!
The criminal complaint states that on Feb. 2, Homeland Security Investigations Border Enforcement Security Taskforce agents received information that Irvin Gonzalez, who also is known as Ervin Gonzalez, was in the U.S. despite having been previously deported. The information received stated that Gonzalez was staying at the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence.
The complaint, filed Feb. 9, indicates that Gonzalez, whom Bernal identified as transgender, had been deported six times since 2010 — apparently after arrests for crimes including possession of stolen mail, false imprisonment and assault.
I guess that a headline reading “ICE detains six-time deportee/convicted felon illegal alien transsexual man in court” just doesn’t have the same zing.