Immigration officials arrested an El Paso immigrant inside a courthouse on charges her lawyers claim are based on a perjured testimony of Border Patrol agent.
Irvin Gonzalez, a Mexican citizen charged with illegal re-entry into the United States after having been deported at least six times and a string of criminal charges, was arrested in a courthouse under dubious circumstances, prompting her lawyers to file a habeas corpus petition calling for her release.
Border Patrol Agent John Urquidi conducted the arrest on February 9. However, his sworn statement has some discrepancies.
In his testimony, Agent Urquidi said that he and his fellow agents saw Gonzales leave the courthouse, after which they approached her to inquire about her citizenship and immigration status. However, security footage from inside the El Paso courthouse tells another story, clearly showing agents holding Gonzales by her arm as they escorted her outside the courthouse.
Gonzalez is a transgender victim of domestic violence and was at court on the day of her arrest for a protective order hearing. While the court granted her a protective order, Immigration Customers Enforcement (ICE) officers, who witnesses say sat through the hearing, arrested her, enraging her attorneys and immigration rights advocates.
In the habeas corpus petition, assistant public defender Andrew Steed said that the agents “arrested her in the waiting area of the protective order court” and brought to an ICE vehicle stalled outside the courthouse as soon as her protective order hearing was over. The petition includes the demand for Gonzalez’s immediate release and for the government to restrain themselves from “further unlawful detention” of the petitioner.
Mario Alberto de Avila, Gonzalez’s abusive boyfriend, is reported to have consistently threatened to have her deported should she report him to the police. Gonzalez’s lawyers speculate that he was the one who tipped off immigration authorities as retaliation. More than three police reports have been filed against Avila, who Gonzalez states physically abused her in various ways. It was when Avila chased her with a knife that she finally went authorities to seek a protective order.
Gonzalez’s criminal record includes deportation, illegal re-entry, assault, domestic violence, and false imprisonment. However, El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke argued that these charges are irrelevant in her domestic abuse case. El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza echoed this sentiment, saying that local law enforcement, as well as ICE, had terribly mishandled the situation, signifying the justice system’s refusal to work with abuse victims in their pursuit of justice.
Gonzalez is now waiting for an immigration court to initiate removal proceedings against her.
If you or a loved one is facing a similarly complicated immigration case, don’t hesitate to learn about your rights by talking to immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to schedule a consultation with our legal team.