ACLU Comment on ICE Arrest of Domestic Abuse Victim
EL PASO — Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested an undocumented victim of domestic abuse while she was seeking a protective order against her abuser at an El Paso courthouse. The woman had been accompanied to the courthouse by a victim’s advocate from the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, where the woman had been living.
“ICE should release this woman immediately and announce as loudly and clearly as it can that undocumented victims of domestic violence — or of any other crime, for that matter — will not be punished for reporting the crimes committed against them,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “This wrongheaded enforcement action sends the message that if a victim is undocumented, future domestic abuse may go unpunished. Home invasions may go unpunished. Rape may go unpunished. Human trafficking may go unpunished. If ICE stands by this arrest, it will make every city in America with an undocumented population — which is every city in America — less safe.”
Last week’s arrest is all the more remarkable in light of a 2011 ICE memo that urges discretion when agents are dealing with an “immediate victim or witness to a crime.” Additionally, it is against El Paso County policy to inquire as to citizenship status in order not to discourage victims or witnesses from coming forward.
“Both state and federal officials have been clamoring for greater public safety, while at the same time supporting anti-‘sanctuary city’ policies that disincentivize vulnerable populations from reporting crimes to law enforcement,” said Astrid Dominguez, Policy Strategist for the ACLU of Texas. “Such policies are, charitably speaking, counterproductive. We cannot yet calculate how damaging this single arrest will be to community safety throughout the country, but it’s safe to say that it will be considerable. We call upon our federal and state governments to protect and respect the rights of all victims of crime.”
View the 2011 ICE memo regarding prosecutorial discretion for crime victims.
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.
The Latest in Immigrants' Rights
Voting and Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Sue Over New Florida Law That Targets Voter Registration, Civic Engagement, and Political Speech
Shen v. Simpson
Chinese Immigrants Sue Florida Over Unconstitutional and Discriminatory Law Banning Them From Buying Land
Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Sue Biden Administration Over New Asylum Ban
The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
Learn More About Immigrants' Rights
The fundamental constitutional protections of due process and equal protection embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to every person, regardless of immigration status.