Four immigrant women have dropped their domestic abuse charges for fear of being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents that have been observed waiting outside courthouses to make opportunistic arrests to deport undocumented immigrants.
According to Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson, she regrets that the four unique assault charges cannot be pursued due to the lack of victims’ testimony and the eventual release of domestic abusers. She points to a video taken and circulated last month of ICE agents waiting outside a Denver courthouse to arrest an immigrant facing trial inside as being the reason for their crippling fear.
The Trump administration has been vocal on its hard-line stance on immigrants and immigration, which encompasses incendiary remarks made by the President himself, the implementation of a travel ban against 6 predominantly Muslim countries, and the increased hiring of more ICE officers. These efforts has so far been effective, resulting in the deportation of hundreds of documented and undocumented immigrants in the first two months of the new administration
Consequently, ICE agents have followed through on the administration’s promise to deport “illegals,” and as pointed by Bronson, in ways that are now disruptive to the justice system. The four women who’ve since dropped their cases point to the lingering presence of ICE agents outside courthouses during hearings where immigrants are involved.
“We were prosecuting on the [abuse victims’ behalf] and since January 25, the date of the president’s executive order [on immigration], those four women have let our office know they were not willing to proceed with the case,” said Bronson when asked about the dropped cases.
Bronson finds that new anti-immigrant policies, as well as the recent behavior of immigration enforcement agents, have led to distrust in the court system among immigrant communities. This has also resulted in a lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses, effectively making many cases concerning immigrants impossible to resolve. Bronson adds that without victims willing to testify against their abusers, the city has had no choice but to dismiss charges, with violent offenders walking away with no consequences.
Bronson has since requested Immigration and Customs Enforcement to keep a reasonable distance away from courthouses, asking them to make their arrests elsewhere. She cites that Federal guidelines identify institutions like schools, churches, and hospitals as sensitive areas, and asserts that courthouses—given recent occurrences–should join that list.
These concerns are not exactly without reason. Last month, ICE agents arrested a domestic abuse victim in a courthouse in El Paso and have subsequently initiated deportation proceedings against her.
If you or a loved one is concerned about this recent spate of courthouse arrests, know your rights by talking to the immigration law experts of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to learn more from immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.