It seems that every day there is a new blow to due process and decency – in the execution and administration of immigration laws and benefits. From the Supreme Court travel ban ruling to ongoing reports of family separation and detention, the downward spiral seems endless. Now we have learned of an ICE officer’s recent assault on Andrea Martinez, an AILA member, while she was representing a three-year-old boy as he was being reunified with his mother in Kansas City.
After months of efforts, the boy’s mother exhausted her last appeal and deportation loomed. Andrea worked tirelessly to arrange their reunification in advance of the mother’s deportation. Andrea coordinated with the ICE office, and as arranged, brought the little boy to the meeting. But instead of following through with the agreed upon plans, these ICE officers turned the tables and one of them assaulted her, resulting in a fractured foot and bloody wounds to her leg.
Andrea describes what happened in the video below. If you’re not alarmed at this, you’re not listening. An ICE officer, a U.S. government agent, assaulted and injured an attorney while she was representing her client who has a right to legal representation. Not only did the officer block Andrea from access to her client, but he then blocked her access to medical attention.
This is wrong. This cannot be how justice is administered in America.
AILA has been highlighting this story with the press and working with our Kansas/Missouri Chapter to ensure there is an investigation of this incident and that this officer is held accountable. We encourage our members to be vigilant and watchful as this toxic environment can clearly lead to harmful actions; please tell us if you encounter anything similar by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also send encouragement and support to Andrea who is not letting her injury stop her from advocating for her clients and thank her for inspiring us to be fearless lawyers. But if ICE is doing this to an attorney in plain view, one has to wonder as Andrea says, what are they doing to people who are unrepresented, who do not speak English and do not know their legal rights?
Amid these dark, painful stories, there are also many that bring me hope. I have been inspired by the thousands gathering in cities across the country supporting immigrants and calling for accountability from ICE and Customs and Border Protection. I am especially proud to hear about AILA attorneys—like Andrea—who are stepping up to help and represent the most vulnerable: children, mothers, and fathers who have been separated from each other. It is the tireless efforts of our members that will keep the torch burning bright and ensure our nation remains a great beacon of hope for those coming to our shores and borders.
Here in her own words, is Andrea describing what happened (recorded June 29, 2018):