According to the City of Denver officials, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents have been increasingly present in the Colorado courthouses, waiting to detain anyone suspected or accused of a crime who may be an undocumented immigrant. Such presence comes as a direct result of an executive order signed by President Trump to target undocumented immigrants for immediate deportation.
Specifically, ICE agents have been waiting for individuals involved in domestic violence cases with intent to detain and deport anyone involved in the matter, including the victims of domestic violence. As one can imagine, this causes fear and mistrust in the legal system to the victim, who is already experiencing fear from the perpetrator, to come to court and testify. Denver City attorney Kristin Bronson told Denver 7 News that they are forced to dismiss a number of domestic violence cases because the victim is simply too scared of deportation to come to court and testify. Also, by being forced to dismiss the cases due to victim’s fear of deportation, the prosecutors are forced to put these violent individuals back on the streets.
This not only re-victimizes the individual who is already in fear for her or his safety from domestic violence, but also makes them fearful to follow through per the avenues of our justice system – which may allow the perpetrator to further inflict pain on them or on someone else. Victims are known to be led by fear to begin with when deciding whether to report the crime or not, but now, with ICE waiting for them at the courthouses, they are even less likely to report the crime, seek help from the law enforcement and protect themselves and their children.
Attorney Hans Meyer explained to the Denver 7 News that the ICE agents are dressed in plain clothes, not easily detectable and do not posses warrants. ICE, on the other hand, told the News that the agents are in fact present at the courthouses, but that they have every right to be there and that they had the proper documentation to make arrests.
This could also affect divorce and child custody issues in Colorado. If an individual is too scared to seek law enforcement’s and/or the court’s help to obtain a divorce or protect their children from possible dangerous situations or to obtain custody orders that are in the best interest of the child, it could create an era of more abuse, more unstable marriages and children growing up in a home that otherwise would not be acceptable to the parent had he or she not been scared to seek help.
If you need assistance with a family law issue, please contact the domestic team at Feldmann Nagel Margulis.