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ICE Brazenly Lies About Crashing Van Carrying Mothers Separated From Their Children

Joe Brusky / Flickr

Recent polling from the Pew Research Center indicates a plurality of Americans now hold an unfavorable opinion of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A new report published Wednesday helps illuminate why.

According to the Texas Observer, which cites a police report and interviews with four passengers, an ICE contractor crashed a cargo van in San Marcos, Texas, last month. The van was transporting eight Central American mothers who had been separated from their children as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. The vehicle was rendered inoperable and multiple women were injured, yet the agency repeatedly denied that the accident took place.

“The crash occurred as the group was leaving a Sunoco gas station just off Interstate 35,” writes the Observer’s Gus Bova. “The van’s driver was an employee of Trailboss Enterprises, an Alaska-based company that provides transportation for ICE in Central and South Texas. The driver failed to come to a stop and T-boned an F-250 [Ford truck] that was entering the gas station, police said. The mothers told the Observer the impact slammed them against the seats in front of them, resulting in headaches, dizziness, nausea and injury to one woman’s leg, which began swelling immediately.”

The mothers’ statements are nothing less than harrowing. Dileia of Honduras, who did not want to give her full name for fear of reprisal from U.S. officials, told the Observer, “The crash was really strong, like maybe we were going to flip.” Another mother, Roxana, added, “We were all trembling with shock from the accident; my whole body hurt.” Each of the women said they had not been instructed to put on their seat belts.

“For nearly three weeks, ICE denied the crash happened and ignored requests for information,” writes Bova. “The Observer was first alerted to the crash the day after it occurred by immigrant rights activists in Austin. The next day, Leticia Zamarripa, an ICE spokesperson, denied the incident twice. ‘Your sources misinformed you,’ Zamarripa wrote on July 20. ‘There was no crash.’ ”

After the magazine obtained an accident report, an ICE spokesperson issued a statement calling the incident a “fender bender.” The report itself notes that the vehicle had to be towed.

Ultimately, the incident is merely the latest in a long string of atrocious developments involving the newly radicalized federal law enforcement agency. Just last month, HuffPost revealed that ICE is “effectively partnering” with domestic abusers in order to “keep their victims from seeking help from law enforcement and the judicial system.”

Jacob Sugarman
Jacob Sugarman is the acting managing editor at Truthdig. He is a graduate of the Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism whose writing has appeared in Salon, AlterNet and Tablet, among other…
Jacob Sugarman

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