An immigration attorney says she broke her foot Tuesday morning after she was pushed down by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in Kansas City.
Andrea Martinez of Martinez Immigration Law was accompanying her client, a three-year-old boy, to the agency's Enforcement and Removal Office in Kansas City, Missouri. Martinez says she had arranged with ICE agents beforehand to reunite the boy and his mother, Kenia Bautista-Mayorga. Her partner Luis Diaz brought the boy to the parking lot outside of the building. Both mother and child were being deported back to Honduras together.
The firm invited a group of local activists to be present during the exchange, and about 40 people showed up outside of the office at 3 a.m., including members of the media and a Netflix documentary crew. Martinez says the crowd may have caused ICE to change their original plan of meeting in the parking lot for the reunion. She says instead officers told them to enter the building.
Martinez says Diaz knew he was taking a risk being there and could face arrest or deportation since he was also undocumented. Martinez then says an ICE Officer she identified as Everett Chase “put his hands on Luis and forced him” into the building. When Martinez and fellow attorney Megan Galicia protested and followed them inside, the officer pushed the women out the door, forcing Martinez to the ground.
Galicia was also representing the boy and was present during the exchange. She says she was knocked off balance by the officer but not injured.
“There is media presence, there’s activists … and I think that this probably threw ICE way off guard, they weren't expecting that, so really that whole deal that we had negotiated with them to meet out in the open essentially fell apart,” Galicia says.
The plan to meet in the parking lot was supposed to protect Diaz from having to enter the building, the attorneys say.
Martinez says she was let into the building shortly after the confrontation and was held there for 40 minutes with Diaz and Chase but was not given first aid for her injuries. She was later taken on a stretcher to St. Luke’s Northland Hospital where she says she was told she had fractured her foot. She also showed cuts on her knee and the top of her foot. At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, she was on crutches.
Martinez says she is considering whether to file a complaint.
Bautista-Mayorga, who is sixth months pregnant, had been separated from her son and Diaz for more than a month after she arrested by the Missouri Highway Patrol in May. An officer pulled over the couple's care while they were driving through the state and found out that both Diaz and Bautista-Mayorga were undocumented.
Bautista-Mayorga had a court order for removal and was taken into custody. She had been detained in the Platte County Jail since her arrest. Diaz had been caring for her son while she was in custody.
Diaz is currently in the Morgan County Jail without bond after being arrested by ICE following the incident Tuesday morning.
"We take any allegations against ICE personnel very seriously and are looking into the matter. Until a review of the documentary evidence is completed, ICE can issue no further public comment on the matter," said ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer in a written statement.
Kansas City resident Anderson Rasmussen attended the demonstration with the local group Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation. He took a video of the incident, which has since been widely shared online.
“One of the ICE agents manhandled to grab the child,” Rasmussen says. “You could hear one of the attorneys identifying herself as the legal protection of the mother and child … and one of the ICE agents suddenly burst out with a full body push.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:14 p.m. to include comments from an ICE spokesperson.
Sophia Tulp is a KCUR news intern. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_tulp.