Question: I have a roommate who left an abusive relationship. She actually filed a Temporary Restraining Order against this person. Court was yesterday. She went to Court to testify in front of the Judge so that he would rule in her favor and her abuser would not come within 100 yards from her and hurt her again. She won the temporary restraining order, but when she was leaving the Courthouse, she was apprehended by ICE. She is now in detention. Can ICE do this?
Answer: Yes, if the person they apprehend is inside the U.S. and here illegally, they can be apprehended. It is unfortunate and chilling that ICE has decided to do this for people at Court and coming out of Court. What message will this send? It will send the message that people who are illegal and who are victims of crime, that they should not go and get justice against those persons who committed the crime on them. In this exact case upon which you have asked the question, she probably would have kept taking the abuse from the person committing domestic violence on her and she would have lived in fear every day that he is around the corner and will abuse her more.
It also emboldens the accuser and the perpetrator. They will know the fear that the person who is not here legally has and will use that against them. They will commit their crimes on the victims and then tell them if they are reported to the police that ICE will be called and they will be deported.
ICE’s decision to do this is deplorable. They have no sense of how this will affect victims. You can already see statistics. People here illegally are reporting much less crimes. This is not because there are less crimes, but because they are afraid of the police, of ICE and of being deported. In fact, there are probably more crimes actually being committed.
Question: My friend said that ICE wanted to force her to sign her deportation papers. She felt compelled to do this. However, she luckily read something that she has a right not to sign. What can be done?
Answer: You are correct. She did the right thing by not signing. Now, she will have an opportunity to fight her case in Immigration Court. She might qualify for VAWA, or the U Visa, or the T Visa or possibly the S Visa. There are other avenues as well.
Question: Could she have resisted the ICE Official?
Answer: Most likely not. However, she had and has a right to not speak to the officer and not to answer questions. She should simply say “I am choosing not to speak to you as that is my legal right and I am going to have my Immigration Attorney help me.”
Question: She is in detention now. Can she get out?
Answer: Yes, a Motion for a Bond Redetermination can be made. It will show she is not a flight risk and not a danger to the community. If granted, then she will be released during the pendency of the deportation hearings. I certainly understand the reluctance to report crimes. However, the way to help yourself is to see an Immigration /Deportation Attorney who can see if and what you might qualify for under the U.S. Immigration Laws. ICE only wants to deport you. If you will see an Immigration Attorney in sufficient time, then you might very well be able to be helped and to later obtain legal status.