ICE deported a key witness in an ongoing sexual assault investigation at a Texas detention center, report says

el paso
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement's El Paso processing center seen on April 16, 2020.
  • The US deported a key witness in an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in El Paso, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune reported Tuesday.
  • The woman said she and others were routinely abused in security camera blind spots, the report said.
  • The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General had forbidden the woman's deportation, but changed course on Monday, and the woman was sent to Mexico.
  • According to the report, the woman said she came to the US to avoid persecution by a drug cartel, after reporting a high-ranking member to the police for sexual assault.
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An immigrant woman who accused several guards of sexually abusing her and other inmates at a Texas detention center has been deported, despite her being a key witness in an investigation into her claim, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica reported.

The outlets first reported on the 35-year-old woman's accusations last month. In a Tuesday report, ProPublica said the alleged victim had been deported from El Paso to Mexico the day before. The outlets did not name the woman.

One of her lawyers, Linda Corchado, told the outlets that the government investigation cannot be taken seriously since authorities "allowed their most powerful witness to be deported."

The woman said that she and other detainees at the detention center — run by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — were regularly sexually assaulted in areas of the facility that had security camera blind spots, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica reported last month.

The outlets cited a complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of Inspector General.

The woman said several guards had "forcibly" kissed her, and at least one touched her intimate parts, the report said, citing the complaint.

After the woman told her lawyers about the alleged abuse, two other women came forward with similar accusations, the outlets reported, citing the filing.

The DHS Office of Inspector General initially ordered ICE not to deport the woman, the outlets said.

But the office reversed its decision on Monday, saying that the woman could be deported and that further interviews could be done over the phone, the report said.

The woman said she first came to the US to escape persecution by drug cartels in Mexico, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica reported. She said she was threatened by a high-ranking cartel member after she went to police with an allegation of sexual assault her, the report said.

When ProPublica and The Texas Tribune contacted the DHS Office of Inspector General for comment, they were told that the investigation was no longer its responsibility.

They were directed instead to the Justice Department's Inspector General. The DOJ Inspector General did not respond to the outlets' request for comment.

Neither department responded immediately to Business Insider's requests for comment.

Separately, ICE is under scrutiny after a whistleblower accused doctors at a detention center in Irwin County, Georgia, of performing hysterectomies, allegedly without consent, on immigrants who were detained there.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship is investigating the whistleblower complaint.

Lawyers for some of the detained women mentioned in the complaint say they have identified the gynecologist at the center of the allegations.

Read the Texas Tribune/ProPublica report here »

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