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Woman who alleged sexual assault by guards at El Paso ICE facility deported Monday

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Note: This story has been updated with the deportation being completed Monday night, and with comments from an ICE spokeswoman and Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso.

A woman who alleged she was assaulted by two guards at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in El Paso was deported Monday night, her attorney said.

The Mexican woman was identified as Jane Doe 1 in complaints of sexual assault and harassment at ICE’s El Paso Processing Center filed last month by two women and one man, said her attorney, Linda Corchado of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. El Paso Matters does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault.

Corchado said her client spoke with the FBI and DHS inspector general on Aug. 19. Because Jane Doe 1 fears persecution and torture in Mexico, she will be difficult for investigators to find as they continue their investigation, her attorney said.

“From what I can see, this is a situation where my client risked her life, gave investigators a personal tour of the facility, identified camera blind areas in front of her attackers with investigators by her side, spoke with investigators for five hours, gave them various leads including phone numbers from guards who were sexually harassing her and one who assaulted her, sat around detention for 21 days with no legal authority and after she complained about it and we filed a request for habeas, she’s no longer relevant,” Corchado said in a Monday evening email to the El Paso district attorney and the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security.

ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said an immigration judge ordered the woman removed from the country July 21, and she didn’t appeal the ruling. Zamarripa did not respond to a question about criticisms of ICE for deporting Jane Doe 1 while an investigation was underway into her sexual assault allegations.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, criticized ICE for the deportation.

In the August complaint filed with state and federal prosecutors and the DHS inspector general, Jane Doe 1 said two guards forcibly kissed her and touched her intimate areas on multiple occasions between November 2019 and June 2020. The assaults occurred in areas that were out of view of surveillance cameras, she said.

Corchado had asked ICE to release Jane Doe 1 from custody during the investigation.

“This is the fastest deportation I’ve ever seen. They notified me of the declination to release at 4:10 (p.m. Monday) and she was in civilian clothes and set for deportation by 5:40. How does that not look like they’re trying to make this problem just disappear?” she said.

Corchado criticized Corey Price, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in El Paso.

“No one has a stronger interest than Corey Price to ensure that investigators have robust access to a critical witness like my client, but instead he opted to disappear her today,” Corchado said.

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Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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