ACLU of Missouri sued two federal ICE officers for cruelly mistreating a Kansas City immigration lawyer at an ICE facility. In June of last year, lawyer Andrea Martinez followed the ICE officers’ orders to accompany her three-year-old client into an ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Facility so that he could be reunited with his pregnant mother—who is also Martinez’s client—before both would be deported to Honduras. 

Martinez originally had an arrangement with ICE for her clients to say goodbye to the pregnant woman’s partner Luis in the parking lot. ICE told Martinez that she would accompany the child and Luis to a waiting van in the parking lot where the mother was detained so that the child could be reunited with his mother and the Luis could say goodbye to both the boy and his pregnant partner before they were deported.  

Instead of allowing the reunification of mother and child in the parking lot as previously agreed upon, ICE officers Everett Chase and Ronnet Sasse instructed Martinez to enter the ICE facility for the reunification and family goodbye. However, when Martinez arrived at the entrance with her client, the ICE agents forcibly separated Martinez from the three-year-old client and blocked her from entering the building. 

Next, Chase and Sasse forcibly pushed Martinez to the ground causing serious injury and emotional trauma. Seconds later, they ordered Martinez into the facility. Once inside, Chase and Sasse refused Martniez medical treatment for her bleeding leg and fractured foot, illegally detained her inside the facility against her will, and illegally seized and searched her cell phone. The ICE officers also refused to allow the pregnant mother and child to get their luggage out of Martinez’s car, deporting them without any personal belongings except for the clothes they were wearing. 

Chase and Sasse’s cruelty was recorded as part of the Netflix documentary, Living Undocumented. The documentary was released on October 2, 2019, and features Martinez’s clients’ story. 

“We afford ICE officers great latitude, but these two agents acted outside the bounds of what any reasonable officer would think appropriate,” said Anthony Rothert, legal director at the ACLU of Missouri. “Assaulting a lawyer and deporting her toddler client without any of his clothes and belongings is mean. Americans should not tolerate this behavior being done in our name.”

Ultimately, Martinez’s associate attorney was able to call the police and an ambulance from outside the facility to get medical attention for Martinez.  After ICE allowed Martinez to leave the room she was locked in, medical staff assisted Martinez out of the ICE facility on a stretcher. Later at a hospital emergency room, medical tests confirmed that she fractured her foot and had a concussion.

“This case provides a window into how ICE officers treat families in Kansas City,” said Rothert. “We are pleased to take on holding them accountable for their actions.”  

Attorney(s)

Anthony Rothert and Gillian Wilcox

Date filed

October 10, 2019

Court

United States District Court Western District of Missouri, St. Joseph Division

Status

Filed

Case number

No. 19-6135

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