FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 27, 2018

Contact:
Lisa Diefenderfer, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, lisad@charlottelegaladvocacy.org
Stefania Arteaga, Comunidad Colectiva: 980-309-6812, mayrasarteaga@gmail.com
Sejal Zota, NIPNLG attorney: (617) 227-9727‬, szota@nipnlg.org

(Charlotte, North Carolina) – On Wednesday, November 21, 2018, the Charlotte Immigration Court terminated the deportation case of domestic violence survivor Maria* with the support of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Termination of her deportation proceedings will allow Maria to remain with family and community, including her two young children, and pursue immigration relief as a key witness and victim of crime.

Maria’s ordeal began on July 9, 2018, when ICE agents entered the Mecklenburg County Court House and arrested her along with her minor son. Maria and her son were in the process of pursuing legal proceedings to secure safety from her former partner and abuser.

The arrests of Maria and her son sparked a national outcry over the chilling effects of ICE courthouse arrests on violence survivors and the criminal justice system. Additionally, the arrests coincide with a national effort by ICE to step up enforcement at courthouses across the country, in spite of multiple studies showing that such courthouse arrests make victims, witnesses and defendants less willing to seek protection and pursue justice.

Maria states, “I am extremely grateful for all the attorneys, individuals, and organizations who have been working on my case and am so happy with this result.”

“ICE did the right thing in agreeing to halt Maria’s deportation. The injustices in this case demonstrate why the agency should end its practice of conducting enforcement in courthouses.”
Sejal Zota, Legal Director NIPNLG

Lisa Diefenderfer of CCLA said, “This is a great win, not only for Maria, but for immigrant victims of domestic violence everywhere. We are very appreciative that ICE was willing work with us to come to this result, and for all of the help we received from NIPNLG and other experts across the country. We know, however, that this does not solve the problem of court house enforcement. Maria certainly is not the first and will not be the last victim fighting this fight and we all have to keep working for a more just system.”

Sejal Zota, legal director of the NIPNLG and co-counsel, said, “ICE did the right thing in agreeing to halt Maria’s deportation. The injustices in this case demonstrate why the agency should end its practice of conducting enforcement in courthouses.”

Stefania Arteaga, of Comunidad Colectiva, states, “We are pleased to hear that Maria's deportation proceedings have been terminated, however, it is imperative that the Mecklenburg County Courthouse establishes a policy to keep ICE out of the court house. Everyone regardless of their immigration status deserves to have access to the justice system.”

*Counsel request that Maria’s last name be withheld in light of concerns for her safety.

charlotte courthouse sejal zota maria and family