(San Francisco, CA, February 16, 2017)— Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested an undocumented survivor of abuse at a courthouse in El Paso, Texas. The woman was in court to attend a hearing on a restraining order she was seeking against her abuser. An El Paso County Attorney said that most likely ICE was acting on a tip from the abuser himself, who would have been the only other person who knew the time and location of the hearing.
About 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are targeted by domestic violence in their lifetime. Those in the LGBTQ community are victims of domestic violence at equal or greater rates than the population generally. Transgender people in particular are targeted at a much greater rate, with almost 1 in 2 transgender people experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime. Undocumented immigrant survivors of domestic violence face additional barriers to accessing services and resources that could help them escape their abusers.
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:
“We cannot condemn strongly enough ICE arresting a victim of domestic violence while she was in court seeking legal protection from her abuser, a right she was guaranteed under Texas law regardless of immigration status. This arrest has a chilling effect on all victims of domestic violence. Through our Immigration Project and our Legal Helpline we have heard from countless immigrant survivors of domestic violence who are afraid to go to court to get restraining orders or to seek legal protections for their children, worried that their abuser will retaliate by reporting them to ICE. It is unconscionable that ICE would arrest somebody at court, effectively handing abusers a way to further control and harm their victims.”