EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — A woman allegedly sexually assaulted inside an ICE detention center has been deported, and a Texas congresswoman is upset about that.
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said the unnamed woman was deported even as an internal investigation of her alleged assault is ongoing. “Witnesses and victims should never be deported before investigations are complete. I’m working on legislation to ensure this never happens again,” Escobar said in a tweet late Monday.
The woman is one of two females and one male who allege either assaults or sexual harassment inside the El Paso Processing Center, which is run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
One of the women reported being forcibly kissed and touched in her intimate parts by an officer in camera “blind spots” between detainees barracks and a medical building.
The woman also said an officer watched through a window as she and others were using the bathroom at the facility, according to a complaint filed by the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center with the El Paso County District Attorney.
The victim reported the bathroom incident to a supervisor at the El Paso Detention Center but felt a captain dismissed her complaint, so she was discouraged from making further allegations and fell into anxiety and depression, according to Las Americas.
“I am incredibly concerned to see how victims and witnesses are becoming increasingly disposable to law enforcement, both locally and nationally,” said Linda Corchado, staff attorney at Las Americas “My client attended a five-hour interview with the OIG (Office of the Inspector General) and FBI, provided critical information and, from what I can tell, the investigation is still pretty much open.”
Corchado said her client was deported Monday night and that she hasn’t had contact with her since.
“I don’t even know if she was deported with a face mask to protect her from COVID … I don’t know if she slept on a bench last night, I don’t know if she had dinner or breakfast. I am concerned about her personal safety,” Corchado said.
Corchado added that she’s working with the Mexican consulate so that, when her client is located, she can apply for a U-visa for crime victims. “Even if she was deported she has a right to apply, but I need law-enforcement to cooperate and sign off on her certification,” Corchado said.
The other female victim reported sexual harassment and being offered privileges like clean uniforms and soap in exchange for sexual favors. The woman reportedly is no longer in ICE custody.
The male victim complained about an officer staring at him in the showers while rubbing his genitals; he was placed in solitary confinement and eventually transferred to a detention facility in Otero County, New Mexico after he complained, according to Las Americas.
Border Report requested a comment from ICE about the deportation and the allegations and is awaiting a response.