Federal Immigration agents (ICE) arrested a transgender at the El Paso County Courthouse last week according to court records obtained by NewsChannel 9.
The El Paso Times first broke the story Wednesday night, that ICE officials were tipped off on February 2 by the woman’s alleged abuser, that his girlfriend, identified as Irvin Gonzalez in court documents was in the country illegally. He allegedly informed agents that Gonzalez would be at the courthouse on Thursday, January 9 for a court hearing to gain a protective order against him.
Court documents show that Irvin Gonzalez’ boyfriend, was arrested and is being held in the El Paso County Detention Center on three counts of Forgery of a Financial Instrument and one count of Forgery of a Financial Instrument – Elderly.
Despite being identified as a man in federal documents, Irvin Gonzalez, who was living at the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence at the time of her apprehension and identifies as a transgender woman according to sources at the Center.
According to court documents, Gonzalez was apprehended by Border Patrol agents outside of the courthouse at 500 E. San Antonio in Downtown El Paso after leaving her court hearing regarding the protective order she filed against her alleged abuser. She was approached by US. Border Patrol Agents and was questioned as to whether she was a U.S. citizen.
Gonzalez admitted to being in the country illegally and was taken into custody and taken to the ICE Detention Center located on Montana Ave.
According to court documents, Gonzalez had been deported from the United States at least six times, most recently on January 23, 2016 through the Eagle Pass port of entry. She also had a criminal record which included convictions for Larceny-from Mails, False Imprisonment, Assault, Domestic Violence and a probation violation. None of those arrests were in El Paso County, according to jail records.
Gonzalez is still being held on a detainer from Homeland Security awaiting her removal from the United States.
Surveillance video released by county officials contradicts what court documents state. The video shows Gonzalez being approached by two people who county officials believe are ICE agents. The video also shows when Gonzalez is being led out of the courthouse by the two men.
County officials are aware of the criminal record but say a criminal record doesn’t mean you don’t get protection and it doesn’t take away their rights.
The arrest of Gonzalez inside of the courthouse is causing concerns among county officials who believe other victims who were present and might be undocumented will be afraid to come forward and seek help. County Judge Veronica Escobar says it sends a message that agents are coming to get them.
Federal agents have a list of locations considered sensitive, meaning enforcement actions should generally be avoided. A courthouse is not on the list but County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal says in El Paso, historically federal agents have stayed away from the courthouse.
County officials say they hope this is a one time occurance.