Under Donald Trump’s new administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have felt empowered to make arrests in raids at locations like homeless shelters and courthouses. Some women are now feeling pressure to choose between what they fear most: arrest or abuse.
A video of ICE agents standing outside a Denver courthouse waiting to make arrests has been circulating widely in the local community, according to NPR. Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson told NPR that four women have since dropped their cases in which they were victims of “physical and violent assault,” fearing that if they showed up for a hearing they’d risk deportation:
“We had pending cases that we were prosecuting on their 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 for fear that they would be spotted in the courthouse and deported,” Bronson says.
Unfortunately, their fears are well-founded. In February, an undocumented immigrant was arrested at a courthouse in El Paso, Texas, moments after she had been granted a protective order against an abusive ex.
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Bronson has asked ICE agents to stay away from courthouses, writing in an email to NPR, “ICE could just as easily work through the local jail here in Denver to apprehend these individuals and avoid frightening people in our community.” Her office has had to dismiss charges against the violent offenders in those four cases as they have no available testimony.
An ICE spokesperson told NPR in a statement that agents do arrest people at courthouses but “generally it’s only after investigating officers have exhausted other options.”