Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Friday made another arrest at the Fresno County Superior Court.
Erika Sanchez said her boyfriend, Silvino Nava, was detained by ICE at the M Street courthouse on Friday morning. Nava was waiting for his domestic violence case to be heard when ICE officers detained him. Sanchez said she was told Nava would be deported to Tijuana, Mexico, on Friday night.
Sanchez said Nava kept asking ICE agents why they were taking him, and the agents told her to “calm down” and repeatedly told her to “stay away.” Sanchez said the agents were not able to show an arrest warrant and only verbally said Nova had a warrant since 2016.
“They just go in there and separate families,” Sanchez said while sobbing during a telephone interview.
ICE agents began making arrests at the Fresno courthouse in mid-July, prompting concerns among attorneys and immigrant rights advocates over whether individuals’ rights to due process are being violated.
On Thursday, federal immigration agents also made an appearance at the Tulare County Superior Court, but made no arrests.
An ICE spokesperson wasn’t able to confirm the Friday arrest, but did confirm that an officer had appeared at the Tulare courthouse on Thursday, but “no arrests were planned or made.”
The spokesperson also confirmed that ICE agents had a recent false step in the Fresno courthouse, targeting someone who was properly documented.
“The subject was not arrested and after talking to him and determining he was not our intended target, he left the courthouse,” the spokesperson said.
Nava’s case dealt with three misdemeanor charges of domestic violence against Sanchez, but the couple had been going to court for a year to get the case resolved.
Nava’s attorney, Alexandria De La Fuente with the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office, said it was unfair that her client was arrested while his criminal case is pending. She also complained that an ICE agent, while arresting her client, brushed up against her and “slammed” her into a wall when she asked the agent if he had an arrest warrant.
“They act like it’s the Wild West,” De La Fuente said. She did not identify her client, but court records identify him as Nava.
After his arrest, Nava’s case was called, and Judge Carlos Cabrera issued a bench warrant. But De La Fuente convinced the judge to hold the warrant until Nava’s next hearing on Sept. 21 in case he shows up.
Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Belloli, who oversees security at the courthouse on M Street, said he had seen ICE agents carry out one arrest on Friday, and had not seen them return in the afternoon.
“All law enforcement identify themselves,” Belloli said.
Belloli said he didn’t have a problem with ICE agents making arrests at the courthouse as long as they didn’t do it inside the courtrooms.
“It’s more of a courtesy that they don’t disturb the court,” he said.