An undocumented woman was arrested at the El Paso County Courthouse last week while pursuing a protective court order for alleged domestic violence, El Paso Times reports. Federal agents received a tip that the woman was back in the United States, possibly from her alleged abuser, who is in custody, El Paso County attorney Jo Anne Bernal said.
"This is a woman who had suffered serious abuse," Bernal said.
The criminal report claims that Irvin (also spelled Ervin) Gonzalez had been deported six times since 2010 after arrests like possession of stolen mail, false imprisonment, and assault. Homeland Security Investigations Border Enforcement Security Taskforce agents learned she was back in the U.S. — possibly tipped off by her abuser — who is jailed on charges of forgery of a financial document. The criminal complaint alleges that Gonzalez, who is transgender, was staying at a shelter for victims of sexual and family violence, and that she was arrested on the street. Investigators say she was actually arrested in the courthouse while seeking a protective order.
"There were six ICE agents on the 10th floor," Bernal said, emphasizing that protective-order courts cannot be used as a place to detain immigrants. "Our clients come to us at the lowest point in their lives," she explained. "Many of them are so frightened of coming to us because of possible immigration concerns."
Bernal added to CBS News that in her 20 years at the El Paso County Courthouse, "I cannot recall an instance where ICE agents have gone into the domestic violence court, specifically looking for a victim of domestic violence." The news comes amid widespread reports of more than 680 arrests nationwide over five days last week in what ICE has called "routine" sweeps.