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.
Update: Casa de Maryland and National Day Laborer Organizing Network released a statement Friday that calls made to the agency did confirm that Maria Bolanos’ case was a Secure Communities apprehension.
“The fact that the national director of this broken program would lie about its victims and accuse the press of manipulation illustrates that the plain truth is too ugly,” said Gustavo Andrade, CASA de Maryland’s Enforcement Watch Director. “Secure Communities is separating families and damaging the public’s trust in their local police.”
See more in The Washington Post.
Video produced and edited by Stokely Baksh.