Domestic Violence Victim Confronts Director of "Secure Communities" (VIDEO)

For Immediate Release Contact: Rodolfo Pastor: (202) 577-3576; [email protected]
Domestic Violence Victim Confronts Director of “Secure Communities”
A Call for Help Led to Deportation Proceedings.

11.18.2010– Maria Bolanos, a domestic violence victim who’s call for help led to deportation proceedings, confronted David Venturella, director of the immigration enforcement program, “Secure Communities,” at today’s Woodrow Wilson Center panel discussion.

Bolanos demanded the program be ended and that her case be dropped immediately. “I do not want to be separated from my child. I am not a criminal. I ask that you terminate my case and all those under secure communities.” David Venturella refused to answer Maria’s petition and instead accused the Washington Post of inaccurate reporting. He refused to state whether the administration would stay her deportation.

Watch the dramatic video above or here:

Ms. Bolaños’ call for help resulted in her arrest when responding officers of Prince George’s County charged her with selling phone cards without a license. Though the charges were later dropped, Maria was placed into deportation proceedings through the ICE’s “Secure Communities” program.  Her case and others like it highlight the dangers of the rapidly expanding federal program that matches fingerprints of those taken into police custody with the federal immigration database, creating a deportation dragnet of innocent people and victims like Maria.

ICE is forcing the program upon at least three counties that have voted to not participate in the program due to its secretive nature and evidence of its damage to community and police relations. Those counties (Santa Clara, CA, San Francisco, and Arlington, VA) cite examples like Bolanos as reason for opting out of participation.

Maria’s courageous step to keep her family together and fight her deportation remains to be answered by the Obama Administration. She was joined by dozens of protestors outside as well as representatives from the AFL-CIO, Legal Momentum and other groups fighting domestic violence, as well as CASA de Maryland and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

Posted by Deport Nation on Thursday, November 18, 2010.

There were several tense moments today when David Venturella, the assistant director of Secure Communities, addressed a room full of immigration advocates at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“This is a tough topic,” Venturella said during his opening remarks. “I understand it elicits a lot of emotion.”

At one point, Maria Bolanos, a domestic violence victim who’s call for help led to deportation proceedings, confronted David Venturella.

“I called the police after a fight with my partner. I thought they would help me,” said Bolanos, through Ashwini Jaisingh, a translator and organizer with Casa De Maryland. “But through this the police turned me over to ICE, and now I have a deportation order.”

Bolanos has a 21-month old daughter and asked Venturella to dismiss her case immediately.

Venterella said he did not want to discuss the case publicly, but told Bolanos her case “was not a Secure Communities referral.”

Several attorneys in the room offered other examples of cases where their clients had been turned over to ICE after they were taken into police custody after domestic violence disputes.

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