Editor's Note: The following news release was posted on Dame La Mano's Facebook page in response to a federal search on the morning of Sept. 4, 2012.
This morning, at 6:00 AM, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and a city code inspector raided the Dame la Mano Crisis Pregnancy Center at 1014 S. Virginia. ICE detained 50 people who were subsequently released.
No arrests were made and the center reopened its doors this morning. City inspectors found some code violations, but the shelter was not closed. The center says violations were minimal and can be repaired within the 30-days time given by the city.
Dame La Mano's employees and supporters do not know why the center was raided by ICE but suspects that it involves criticism of City Representative Cortney Niland and City Manager Joyce Wilson.
Last year, Niland reported a different domestic violence shelter, Family Crisis Shelter, at 2900 Rosa, to law enforcement and codes.
This shelter was is run by David Arrellano, son of the director of Dame La Mano on Virginia Street (Family Crisis Shelter should not to be confused with Dame La Mano).
Upon criticizing the city that residents were thrown out of the Family Crisis Shelter, and upon criticism by Rosa Cabrera, executive director of Dame La Mano, at a city council meeting, the city retaliated by launching an investigation of Dame La Mano. Last September, Rep. Niland accused the center of "slave labor."
At a June 2012 public meeting regarding redistricting, Niland publicly accused the organization of stealing people's food stamps, an accusation that has been disproved by the Texas Department of Human Services.
Dame La Mano has been served as a shelter for El Paso's victims of domestic violence for over 17 years. A Christian ministry, Dame La Mano opens its doors to El Paso poor helping many victims of domestic violence who are otherwise turned away by other shelters.
The coordination of city and ICE in this matter is a disturbing one as undocumented victims of crime, such as domestic violence and sexual abuse, are often reluctant to go to law enforcement due to the threat of being detained by ICE.
ICE entering a domestic violence shelter sends the wrong message to victims of violence that even in domestic violence shelters, they are not safe from immigration enforcement.