Tension has risen once again after an undocumented transgender woman who is a victim of domestic violence was arrested by ICE last Thursday in El Paso, Texas. Ervin Gonzalez, the name she is referred to by other sources, was recently given a protection order for domestic abuse while living in a shelter.
ICE officers pursued her after receiving an
anonymous tip about her whereabouts, according to El Paso Times.
It’s believed that the tip came from Gonzalez’s live-in boyfriend and alleged abuser, Mario Alberto De Avila, who was detained by ICE and charged with forgery of a financial document. Gonzalez is being represented by attorney Jo Anne Bernal from El Paso County.
Bernal is fearful that this arrest made by ICE will cause other domestic abuse victims to stay silent instead of risking possible deportation. Bernal told El Paso Times:
"Our clients come to us at the lowest point in their lives. Many of them are so frightened of coming to use because of possible immigration concerns."
Paso County judge Veronica Escobar has expressed similar worries. She has
considered having Bernal’s office collaborate with civil rights groups to
create a pamphlet explaining people’s rights when they come in contact with
is controversy surrounding the location where Gonzalez was arrested. ICE has
stated that the arrest was made outside a Texas courthouse. The affidavit
states, “At approximately 9:30 a.m. federal agents observed Gonzalez exiting
the El Paso County Courthouse and proceeded to walk along the sidewalk along
San Antonio Ave.”
But Lucila Flores Camarena, the supervisor of the County Attorney’s Protective Order Unit, disputes this, saying the domestic violence victim was actually arrested inside of the courthouse on the 10th floor.
"My concern is that this whole thing happened in the courthouse and the chilling effect it could have, discouraging other victims from coming forward."
If this proves to be true, it could cause domestic violence victims to stay away from protective-order courthouses.
It has also been said that ICE justifies Gonzalez’s arrest by listing crimes she’s allegedly committed, including domestic violence herself, as well as mail theft and repeatedly entering the US after deportation.