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ICE Deports Woman Who Alleged Sexual Assault At El Paso Detention Facility

The fences outside an El Paso immigration border detention facility.
Cedar Attanasio
Associated Press
The fences outside an El Paso immigration border detention facility.

The woman was a key witness in an investigation into accusations of sexual assault and harassment by guards.

The U.S. government deported a Mexican woman who said she was sexually assaulted by guards at an immigration detention facility in El Paso.

She was one of three detainees who alleged they were sexually harassed or assaulted at the El Paso Processing Center, in a complaint filed last month.

The woman — referred to in the complaint as Jane Doe 1 — said two guards forcibly kissed her and touched intimate parts of her body, out of view of surveillance cameras.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General launched an investigation into the accusations and initially asked ICE not to deport the woman.

Jane Doe 1 spoke with investigators for five hours, according to her lawyer, Linda Corchado. She gave them a tour of the detention facility, pointed out camera blind spots, and offered multiple leads.

“I think under circumstances like this, really the main goal and the priority for investigators is to protect your main asset,” Corchado said. “And they really made the wrong decision by giving ICE the green light” to deport her to Mexico.

An ICE spokesperson said an immigration judge issued a removal order for the woman in July, which she did not appeal. The spokesperson did not directly address why ICE moved ahead with the deportation while the woman was serving as a witness in an open investigation.

DHS OIG did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Corchado criticized Corey Price, the field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in El Paso, for deporting a key witness.

“He more than anybody should have a vested interest in ensuring that...all of the detained men and women in his facility are safe,” she said. “That’s a basic protection that he should be able to provide, and he should be invested in any investigation that ensures that in fact it is safe.”

The woman was deported late Monday.

Mallory Falk covers El Paso and the border for KERA as part of The Texas Newsroom, a regional news hub linking stations across the state. She is part of the national Report for America program, which places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.