Allegedly Raped in ICE Custody, Father of 7 Faces Deportation
For five months, Audemio Orozco-Ramirez has been in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center outside Denver, waiting for a decision on whether he will be deported to Mexico. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, Orozco-Ramirez has been targeted by ICE because he was allegedly raped in the agency’s custody in 2013.
The 44-year-old Orozco-Ramirez, who has lived in the United States for nearly 20 years and is a father of seven, was arrested in 2013 at a Montana traffic stop for being in the country without documentation. He was transported to a detention center in Jefferson County, Mont. He alleges he was raped there by a fellow inmate.
The jail agreed to settle with Orozco-Ramirez in a civil lawsuit, awarding him $125,000 in 2016. He was given a work permit, with the stipulation that he check in with ICE on a regular schedule. However, when he showed up for his routine appointment in Billings, Mont., in August 2017, he was detained, and has since been held at the Denver Contract Detention Center in Aurora, Colo.
ThinkProgress reports that an ICE spokesperson said Orozco-Ramirez’s status was pending “final disposition of proceedings before the immigration courts.” ICE spokesperson Carl Rusnok said the claims that Orozco-Ramirez was drugged and sexually assaulted “were investigated by federal and state agencies; the results of these investigations concluded that Audemio Orozco-Ramirez was not drugged or sexually assaulted.”
However, Orozco-Ramirez’s former attorney, Shahid Haque, claimed that video of the sexual assault was deleted, and pointed out in a Facebook video that four hours of recording were cut out of the tapes the Jefferson County jail gave to Haque—which coincided with the time when Orozco-Ramirez claimed the rape occurred. Haque said officials agreed to settle with Orozco-Ramirez once it was clear that the detention center had not provided the full video evidence.
Haque also asserts that after Orozco-Ramirez reported the alleged rape, officials at the Jefferson County jail failed to interview all the inmates who were present until years later, and did so only once a lawsuit was filed against it. “Their goal, right from the beginning, was to sweep this under the rug,” Haque said of the Jefferson County jail officials.
In the video, Haque also called Orozco-Ramirez’s case “one of the most egregious abuses that I’ve ever been involved in,” and took issue with Orozco-Ramirez’s first 2013 detainment, because he was a passenger in the vehicle that was pulled over and was allegedly held for hours until the ICE arrived. “By all accounts, it was an illegal stop,” Haque said.
An Op-Ed by Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, the executive director of the ACLU in Colorado, published in The Colorado Independent noted another violation in Orozco-Ramirez’s case. Woodliff-Stanley wrote: “As a victim of a crime who cooperated with law enforcement, Audemio is eligible for a U.S. visa, which would block his deportation, but his application has never been responded to.”
The executive director of the ACLU in Montana, Caitlin Borgmann, called Orozco-Ramirez’s arrest “a new low,” and said, “It appears that they are trying to get rid of him because he was raped in their custody. And unless the public speaks up, they will get away with it.”
Walking today with @afsc_org, @CIRCimmigrant, and others to call on @ICEgov to free Audemio Orozco-Ramirez, a hard-working father of seven who was the victim of sexual assault in ICE custody and now faces immediate deportation. #FreeAudemio pic.twitter.com/YxaYFVCph9
— ACLU of Colorado (@ACLUofColorado) January 29, 2018