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.
According to the El Paso Times, the woman in question was detained on February 9 after officers received her name via a tip line from an unidentified source, likely her alleged abuser.
The victim - who Bernal identified as a trans woman yet is described with male pronouns by ICE agents in the court document - has reportedly been deported several times since 2010.
"On Feb. 9, task force agents assigned to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso's Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) arrested Irvin Gonzalez, aka Ervin Gonzalez, on a felony charge of illegally re-entering the United States after having been previously deported", ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamparra said in an email.
Victims' advocates with the county and elsewhere said they were stunned that federal agents would, in effect, violate the sanctity of a protective-order court, where victims of domestic violence already are reluctant to go.
Bernal said she and other county officials planned to meet Friday with state, local and federal officials to ask that ICE refrain from similar enforcement actions in the future. As an alleged victim of domestic violence, she was there to obtain her protective order against her alleged abuser and was arrested moments after it was granted.
Bernal said she's doing all she can to reassure victims of abuse - especially if they're undocumented. ICE said the "targeted enforcement actions" were planned before President Trump took office, but he just issued an executive order that expanded the definition of who's considered a priority for deportation to the point that it could cover any undocumented immigrant.
The woman is now being held in El Paso County jail. Gonzalez's criminal history includes convictions for illegal re-Entry, larceny/from mail, false imprisonment (three times), assault, probation violation and domestic violence. Bernal said she believes that the woman was set up by her abusive boyfriend who knew the details of her court appearance.
ICE Arrests Undocumented Domestic Violence Victim Moments After Obtaining A Protective Order
O'Rourke could not be reached for comment Thursday, but in a Facebook post, he said that "everyone regardless of immigration status should be able to report domestic abuse and seek protection without fear of deportation".
According to their website, the ICE does not consider courthouses to be sensitive locations.
Bernal said the footage is clear from the security cameras.
"If we only protected people with flawless records, we'd all be out of a job", she said.
Abusers often threaten partners with informing immigration enforcement should they seek help.
"We are hopeful that this is an isolated incident and that this never happens again". They're always afraid to come forward because their entire life has reaffirmed that they should fear authority, that they should fear men, and they don't have rights.
The county attorney's office said the woman who was arrested does not have a violent criminal past, but that she did come into the country multiple times.
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