Things That Matter

A Woman Has Come Forward To Accuse An ICE Agent Of Rape And Threatening Her With Deportation

A Honduran immigrant, identified in the lawsuit only as Jane Doe, sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with former ICE agent Wilfredo Rodriguez for repeatedly raping her over the course of seven years.

The woman, living in Connecticut, claims that an immigration agent threatened her with deportation if she refused to have sex with him. The ICE agent allegedly, repeatedly raped her as frequently as four times a week, and impregnated her three times. The woman is seeking $10 million in damages. 

Lawyers say the woman was essentially coerced by the ICE agent. 

“My only comment is that my client had a choice, cooperate with ICE or be deported with her family,” George Kramer, the woman’s lawyer, told KTLA.

The woman hopes to change the treatment of immigrants who choose to cooperate with ICE. 

“She remains in a very fragile psychological state. She is not only seeking compensation for the physical and emotional damage she suffered but to change the way those who are cooperating with ICE are treated by those in a position of power and who often wield total control over the ability to remain in the United States, Kramer said. 

The agent allegedly coerced her to become an informant.

An ICE spokesperson said the accused Wilfredo Rodriguez no longer works for the agency. According to the woman, she first met Rodriguez in 2006 after her brother was detained for entering the United States illegally. When Rodriguez discovered she was also undocumented, he forced the woman to become an informant and help the agency find undocumented criminals to deport, the lawsuit claims. The woman says she helped them arrest three undocumented immigrants who had stabbed her husband. 

The ICE agent repeatedly raped the woman, according to the lawsuit.

While trying to locate someone in 2007, Rodriguez asked the woman to meet him at a motel where he tried to have sex with her, according to the lawsuit; when she refused, he covered her mouth and held her at gunpoint while forcing himself on her. Jane Doe alleges she became pregnant by Rodriguez in 2007, 2009, and in 2013. Each time she had an abortion, she says, and Rodriguez paid for only one.

The lawsuit states that he made the woman perform lewd sexual acts and “abhorrent sexual behavior” where he referred to himself as the “wolf” and routinely threatened to murder her and her family.  

At one point around 2010, the suit alleges, Rodriguez’s superiors became suspicious of his treatment of immigrants. Jane Doe was called into the ICE office where agents told her not to have contact with any officers outside of the office or outside of typical business hours. Rodriguez continued to contact and harass the woman, according to the lawsuit. 

In 2014, the woman was so scared of Rodriguez that at one point he called her demanding sex. She says she was so terrified she fell off a ladder after hanging up. She seriously injured her neck, back, and ribs which required surgery. 

The woman finally came forward when her father began to fear his own deportation. While filing for his asylum, she told her story, and an agent told her to consult an attorney. 

This isn’t the first time ICE agents have been accused of sexual abuse.

An ICE detention center said it was not responsible if staff abused detainees. In 2014, a 19-year-old asylum seeker from Honduras was staying at a Pennsylvania detention center with her 3-year-old son. The woman, known as “E.D.” was sexually assaulted by a guard. 

“I didn’t know how to refuse because he told me that I was going to be deported,” she told the New York Times. “I was at a jail and he was a migration officer. It’s like they order you to do something and you have to do it.” 

According to the ACLU, the employee pled guilty to “criminal institutional sexual assault under Pennsylvania law,” however the “defendants contend that they should not be liable for any constitutional violations.” The defendants claimed that the sexual abuse was “consensual” because it occurred in an immigration detention center, not a jail or prison. 

E.D. is among thousands of immigrants who claim they were sexually abused while in ICE custody over the last 10 years. ICE has reported 1,310 claims of sexual abuse against detainees between 2013 and 2017. Watchdog groups estimate that sexual abuse actually occurs at much higher rates. 

“Rather than meaningfully addressing these endemic problems in immigration detention, the Trump administration continues to aggressively target immigrants and asylum seekers by stripping away legal protections, ramping up enforcement, and expanding immigration detention,” according to the ACLU. 

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Honduran Woman Gave Birth On Bridge Between U.S. And Mexico Border But What Will Happen To Them Next?

Things That Matter

Honduran Woman Gave Birth On Bridge Between U.S. And Mexico Border But What Will Happen To Them Next?

Julio César Aguilar / Getty Images

As the number of parents and children crossing the border continues to increase, driven by violence and poverty in Central America, many are growing desperate while being forced to wait in migrant camps in Mexico. While crossings have not reached the levels seen in previous years, facilities that hold migrants are approaching capacity, which has been reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is forcing many to check the status of their claims by crossing into the U.S. to speak to border agents. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more and more women are being forced to give birth in less than ideal situations – putting at risk both the lives of the mother and child.

A migrant woman gave birth on a bridge between U.S.-Mexico border.

According to Mexican border authorities, a Honduran woman gave birth on the Mexican side of the border bridge between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. The woman was apparently trying to reach the U.S. side, but felt unsteady when she got there and was helped by pedestrians on the Mexican side waiting to cross.

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said the birth occurred Saturday afternoon on the Ignacio Zaragoza border bridge, also known as “Los Tomates.” It said authorities received an alert from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials regarding “a woman trying to enter the country improperly.”

It said the woman was taken to a hospital in Matamoros, where she was given free care. Her child will have the right to Mexican citizenship.

Hernández is hardly the first woman to give birth while hoping to cross into the U.S.

Just last month, a woman gave birth along the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. She had just crossed the river and her smugglers were yelling at her to keep moving as U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived. But she couldn’t continue, fell to the ground, and began to give birth.

The mother and her her daughter are safe and in good health. “They treated me well, thank God,” said the woman, who didn’t want her name used because she fears retribution if she’s forced to leave the country, in an interview with ABC News.

“There’s so many women in great danger,” Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, told ABC News. “They must really think before they do what they do and risk the life of their unborn child.”

Like so many other women, Hernández was waiting in Mexico under Trump’s cruel immigration policies.

Hernández was reportedly among about 800 migrants sheltering in an improvised riverside camp while awaiting U.S. hearings on their claims for asylum or visas. Other migrants are waiting in Matamoros, but have rented rooms.

Thousands of other migrants are waiting in other Mexican border cities for a chance to enter the U.S. — some for years. The Trump administration has turned away tens of thousands at legal border crossings, first citing a shortage of space and then telling people to wait for court dates under its “Remain in Mexico” policy.

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This Virtual Posada Aims To Help The LGBTQ Migrant Community And They Need Your Help

Things That Matter

This Virtual Posada Aims To Help The LGBTQ Migrant Community And They Need Your Help

Juan Zanella Gonzalez / Getty Images

For many Latinos, the word posada, evokes holiday celebrations surrounded by family and friends, singing, enjoying a warm meal (of tamales and ponche, of course), and spreading holiday cheer all around. Obviously, this year’s posadas will look very different but it’s more important than ever that we continue with traditions.

Posadas are steeped in the history of Mary and Joseph’s quest for safe refuge where the Virgin Mary could safely give birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. Given our current government’s cruel and anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, the story of Mary & Joseph rings true with many people hoping to find a safer, better home in the United States. This is especially true for LGBTQ migrants who face unique challenges in both their journeys to the U.S. and their asylum experience.

Enter the LGBTQ Center Orange County. The center has proudly stood up to help the community in powerful and life-changing ways and their annual Queer Posada is one of the most important.

The LGBTQ community faces unique challenges in their quest for asylum and settlement in the U.S.

Credit: Lino de Jesús Herrera / Getty Images

LGBTQ detainees across the country have shared harrowing experiences of being mocked or tortured for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Many others have been sexually assaulted while in ICE custody or while waiting for their asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border. And transgendered and HIV-positive detainees have both been denied medically necessary healthcare that has posed a risk to their lives.

Migrant advocacy groups and several lawmakers have demanded that ICE release all LGBTQ detainees and anyone with HIV in the agency’s custody, because the government has repeatedly failed to provide adequate medical and mental health care to them.

And Southern California is home to the nation’s largest undocumented community, which means organizations like the LGBTQ Center Orange County have their work cut out for them. However, the center has proudly stood up to help in powerful and life-changing ways.

Meet JB, who was detained at Adelanto Detention Center and relied on the help of the LGBTQ Center Orange County.

JB, who identifies as a transgender man, was a detainee at Adelanto Detention Center. While in custody he was denied access to his hormone therapies which had negative effects on both his physical and mental health.

JB credits the LGBTQ Center Orange County with saving his life. The Center was a consistent advocate for JB and helped provide much-needed cash and weekly visits.

You can hear more stories from LGBTQ migrants who have been helped by the LGBTQ Center Orange County’s countless programs by following our Snapchat account, which will feature more important voices.

The LGBTQ Center Orange County offers so many important programs that help migrants out in extraordinary ways.

So often, LGBTQ migrants make the journey to the U.S. alone and, therefore, don’t have the family support (neither financial or emotional) that’s so important. But that’s where the LGBTQ Center Orange County comes in to help fill that void.

Volunteers and employees of The Center do so much for the community: from attending numerous events throughout the year to educate and provide much-needed resources or sending $20 to a detainee so they can have a filling meal, to helping advocate for the end of the partnership between Santa Ana Police and the Orange County Sheriff with ICE, to providing weekly citizenship classes to those who need them.

The LGBTQ Center Orange County has also been a leader in assisting eligible residents with their DACA applications, which is a cause close to the hearts of Luis Gomez and Jonatan Gutierrez – both DACA recipients who work with the LGBTQ Center Orange County.

And now it’s our turn to give back at the LGBTQ Center Orange County’s posada.

Obviously, this year’s posada tradition looks very different but the LGBTQ Center Orange County is working to keep the tradition alive by taking it online and making it free for all to attend. However, it is a critical fundraising event that enables the center to do all that it does for the LGBTQ migrant community across Southern California. 

And the work the center does is so important because it shouldn’t just be on detainees to speak out. All of us as part of the LGBTQ and migrant communities should support those in detention and speak out about the injustices they’re suffering in detention.

Donations from the Queer Posada will go toward the center’s LGBTQ Immigrant Fund. The unrestricted funds meet multiple needs from bonds, commissary funds, airline tickets to immigration filing fees. The center has also distributed checks to LGBTQ community members who have been severely impacted by COVID-19. You can get more information and RSVP for this free, virtual event here.

Plus it’s going to be a fun and free event that you won’t want to miss.

Not only will you be able to virtually hang out with members of the community and leaders from the LGBTQ Center OC but there will also be a spirited round of lotería, a raffle, and a live performance by the LGBTQ Mariachi Arcoíris de Los Angeles.

During the Queer Posada, their will also be an exclusive screening of the nearly 15-minute Before and After Detention documentary, followed by a Q&A with the director Armando Ibañez. The film follows three trans women who were released from detention centers. Angela, Fernanda and Gladys live in Los Angeles, while their asylum status is pending. In the documentary, they talk about their lives in their home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico and being detained in the U.S.

The LGBTQ Center Orange County’s Queer Posada is taking place this Saturday, December 12 at 6 p.m. on Zoom, and is an important event for both the LGBTQ and migrant communities, one that you do not want to miss!

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