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Last week, amid a rash of immigration raids across the U.S., Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested an undocumented domestic violence victim while she was seeking a protective order against her alleged abuser in Texas.
According to the El Paso Times, the woman was arrested by ICE on Thursday after the hearing inside the courthouse. ICE pursued her on an anonymous tip, possibly from her alleged abuser, who was in custody at the time of the detainment.
Though the woman was given the order, a criminal complaint on file with the U.S. District Court in El Paso says someone with the same name as the woman has a history of six deportations and several arrests for crimes, including stolen mail, false imprisonment, and assault.
The complaint also alleges the woman was detained on the street, though an investigation led in part by El Paso County attorney Jo Anne Bernal, and verified in a report from the Washington Post, found that she was detained inside the courthouse.
According to the Post, the undocumented woman filed three police reports against her abuser, who was a live-in boyfriend. She accused him of punching, kicking and choking her, and of pulling her hair and attempting to stab her. She ultimately fled El Paso but returned weeks later to live at a domestic violence shelter, before filing a third report and a request for a protective order on Jan. 26.
Bernal, whose office represents domestic abuse victims, told the Times she’s concerned the arrest will scare other undocumented victims of domestic abuse to not come forward and to instead stay with their abusers for fear of deportation and being separated from their children and families.
“Our clients come to us at the lowest point in their lives,” Bernal told the Times. “Many of them are so frightened of coming to us because of possible immigration concerns.”
The arrest occurred during a wave of ICE raids, which President Donald Trump alleged to be “crackdown on illegal criminals,” but the Department of Homeland Security has stated to be part of “routine” immigration enforcement. As of Monday, 680 people have been arrested across five cities as part of these raids, CNN reported, resulting in protests across the United States.
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.