Erika Gonzalez Zuniga is an illegal alien with multiple criminal convictions for theft on her record. She has illegally entered the United States on multiple occasions and was ordered deported by a judge. Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested her outside of a courthouse in Hidalgo County, Texas. This action by ICE angered Congressman Vicente Gonzalez who represents the area.
“I was disturbed to learn that ICE arrested Ericka Gonzalez Zuniga at the Hidalgo County Courthouse yesterday,” complained Rep. Gonzalez. It’s not that ICE did anything wrong, or violated anyone’s rights in exercising the arrest warrant. It’s just that ICE’s action might make other immigration law violators nervous. “While lawful, this lacked forethought, incites fear in our community, and may have a detrimental impact on our local justice system,” because people who violate laws might be apprehensive about showing up at places where our laws are enforced (or something like that), the congressman explained.
Ms. Gonzalez Zuniga was not at the Hidalgo County Courthouse last week facing charges of her own. She was not there because she had been called to testify in a case, or because she was providing valuable information to police or prosecutors. Rather, she was there to lend support for her son who was being sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing Sandra Coronado, a Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office Communication Officer, while he was driving drunk.
Not only didn’t ICE do anything that was unlawful, as Congressman Gonzalez concedes, they acted with considerable forethought and executed the arrest of a convicted felon (and the mother of another one) under the safest possible conditions – one in which they could be certain that the suspect would not be armed. “Under ICE policy, courthouses are not considered sensitive locations. In such instances where officers seek to conduct an arrest at a courthouse, every effort is made to take the person into custody in a secure area, out of public view, for the safety of those involved,” stated Nina Pruñeda, a spokeswoman for ICE.
If ICE’s action was important enough for a member of Congress to put out a press release expressing his disturbance, it kind of begs a question that he and other critics of ICE enforcement need to answer: If ICE should not arrest someone with multiple felony convictions on her record, who has entered the country illegally on several occasions and has a pending deportation order, at a location where she is least likely to be armed, then who, in their opinion should ICE be going after and where?
That’s a rhetorical question by the way. We already know the answer.