(AUSTIN, Texas) — A woman is speaking out about the arrest of her husband this morning by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at a Travis County courthouse, just after a court hearing. The arrest appears to be designed to get around the Travis County Sheriff Office’s policy of refusing warrantless ICE requests.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her husband was one of more than 30 immigrants who were released just after Sheriff Sally Hernandez implemented the new policy last month.
“Mi esposo fue uno de los 36 inmigrantes que había dejado salir aquí la sherif y aunque tenía orden de inmigración y lo quería hacer bien y se presentó a su segunda corte y cuando iba saliendo de allí lo estaba ya esperando migración y se lo llevó y ni siquiera se despidió de mí y de su hijo porque ahora ni siquiera sé donde va a estar.”
English translation: “My husband was one of the 36 immigrants who could leave the jail under the sheriff and even though he had an immigration order, he wanted to do the right thing and he appeared at his second court date. When he was leaving, immigration agents were waiting for him and took him. He didn’t even get to say goodbye to me, or to his son because now we don’t even know where he is going to be.”
She also said that her husband was arrested with their rent money in his wallet, totalling $1,300. When agents returned his belongings to her, the money was missing.
Julie Pennington was a witness to the morning’s events and spoke to the two plainclothes ICE agents before they arrested the man. Pennington said she recognized the men as ICE agents and that they became aggressive when she approached them. They refused to provide their names or badge numbers and would not let another attorney at the scene adequately review a document the agents claimed was a warrant, she said. Pennington worries about the effect new, aggressive ICE tactics have on her clients’ ongoing legal cases.
“I have had more undocumented clients that I suddenly can’t reach in the last month than ever before,” she said.
Attorney Daniel Betts whose client was arrested said, “It strikes me as extraordinary that ICE would come into a courthouse to apprehend my client. The irony is that he was in court today to avoid problems with immigration by resolving his misdemeanor offense.”
The Austin American-Statesman reported that ICE agents were at two separate Travis County courthouses on Friday morning. This is the latest in a series of chilling new tactics from ICE under the Trump administration. In recent weeks, a transgender Latina filing for a protective order was arrested by ICE in a El Paso courthouse. And earlier this week, ICE agents arrested a young undocumented immigrant after following her from a press conference where she spoke out about her family’s experience.
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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past.
Bethany Carson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-499-8111