In February, we reported how Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested a victim of domestic violence at a courthouse while she was trying to get a restraining order against her abuser. A video posted online by a Denver law firm reveals that this was not an isolated incident.
The above video shows Whitney Leeds of the Meyer Law Office questioning three ICE agents at a courthouse waiting to make warrantless arrests the same as the Texas courthouse arrest. “This video demonstrates that ICE is not even bothering to obtain warrants, unlike any other law enforcement jurisdiction, and is completely opaque about their operations with court personnel and the City of Denver,” Attorney Hans Meyer said to ABC News in February.
The agents would not say much to Leeds, other than identifying that they were in fact federal agents and that they did not have warrants. In the case of the Texas arrest, it is believed that the abuser was the one to tip off immigration agents. It’s unclear if that’s what happened at the courthouse in Denver.
Advocates for these immigrants say that ICE is actually ignoring a law that could help give these immigrants legal status.
As Kate Segal writes for The Hill:
The U visa provides a pathway to permanent residency for immigrants who are victims of a serious crime if they assist authorities in investigating and prosecuting the crime. Domestic violence has been the basis for almost 50 percent of U visas granted, according to one survey. Survivors whose abusers are citizens or lawful permanent residents can file petitions for residency themselves without the knowledge of the abuser.
This law limits abusers with lawful status from using their status to control undocumented partners — threatening to turn them in to the police — or using the prospect of residency sponsorship to coerce their victims into silence. The 2013 reauthorization of the law addressed questions of inclusiveness and increased protections for immigrants and other marginalized groups.
One of the real effects of President Trump’s executive orders was in giving ICE agents broad authority to detain and deport immigrants, no longer focusing on just those with criminal records as was the policy under the Obama administration.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image via screengrab