A Kansas City immigration lawyer claims she was shoved to a concrete sidewalk by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer early Tuesday and physically separated from a 3-year-old boy she was reuniting with his Honduran mother to be deported.
Attorney Andrea Martinez said she suffered a fracture in her right foot and bloody injuries to her left ankle and knee.
The incident at roughly 3:15 a.m. was captured on video by a collection of activists and a documentary crew that witnessed it at ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations office on North Ambassador Drive in Kansas City.
ICE issued a statement Tuesday evening:
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“Early this morning an incident occurred at the Kansas City ICE office while ICE (Enforcement and Removal Operations) officers were attempting to reunite a mother with a family member. We take any allegations against ICE personnel very seriously and are looking into the matter.”
The incident occurred as Martinez and fellow attorney Megan Galicia went to reunite Noah with his pregnant mother, Kenia Bautista-Mayorga, who was being deported to Honduras. The two had been separated by ICE for a little more than a month while Kenia Bautistia-Mayorga was being held in the Platte County Jail.
Noah had been looked after during the separation by his mother's partner, who is also the father of Bautista-Mayorga's unborn baby. The 23-year-old is about six months pregnant.
Luis Alfredo Diaz Inestroza, also an undocumented Honduran, took a risk by accompanying Noah to the ICE office to say goodbye to his partner when he was abruptly taken into custody, Martinez said.
Martinez said ICE Officer Everett Chase grabbed Inestroza and forced him into the Enforcement and Removal Operations office. Martinez said Chase then pushed her to the ground before locking the door, separating the attorney from her client, Noah.
Galicia said she was struck in the face by an arm but in the confusion she doesn't know whose arm it was.
In the video Martinez can be heard yelling "No! No! No!" as she was pushed away from the boy.
"He turned around and pushed us out the door and shut the door and locked it," Martinez said later at a press conference at her Northland office. "That's when . . . I fell and I rolled my ankle and caused the fracture in my right foot."
All of this was happening in front of the child, who had already been traumatized by the fear that his mother had abandoned him, the lawyer said.
Martinez and Galicia further allege that ICE had agreed the afternoon before that the reunification of Noah and his mother, as well as Inestroza's farewell to his partner, could be done in the open parking lot rather than inside the office.
The lawyers acknowledge that Chase might have been surprised by the presence of cameras and activists but they said that did not justify his actions.
"You don't separate any lawyer from a client, particularly not a 3-year-old," said Martinez.
"And you don't assault a lawyer," added Galicia.
A short time later, Martinez said, Chase instructed her to come into the building where Noah, his mother and Inestroza were crying and hugging.
Martinez said Inestroza was then detained and handcuffed. She said she was kept in a locked room for about 40 minutes and denied first aid.
Tuesday's events capped a chain of events that illustrate the workings of U.S. immigration enforcement and recent policy changes under the Trump administration.
ICE says Bautista-Mayorga illegally crossed the Texas border and was taken into custody Feb. 25, 2016. She was released on her own recognizance, agreeing to attend an immigration court hearing later in the year. But she said she wished to seek asylum. Her family says she fears an abusive ex-husband in Honduras.
Bautista-Mayorga did not attend the scheduled hearing, leading to an order for her removal. She and her son had been living in Texas with Inestroza. They were traveling to Iowa on May 16 when a Missouri Highway Patrol officer stopped them.
Bautista-Mayorga was detained and separated from her son because of the order for removal. Inestroza, who did not have an order for removal, was told he had two months to leave the country.
Bautista-Mayorga's situation reflected two recent changes in the government's toughening stance on detaining and removing unlawful immigrants. In late March, Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a directive that "ended the presumption of release of pregnant detainees." And earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled that domestic violence will no longer be grounds for undocumented persons to seek asylum.
On Monday, attorneys Martinez and Galicia learned their efforts to keep Bautista-Mayorga from being deported were unsuccessful. That's when they were told to bring the boy to be reunited with his mother in the middle of the night.
On Tuesday morning, Bautista-Mayorga and Noah were taken by ICE to be placed on a plane and sent back to Honduras. Martinez said ICE refused to provide flight information so family members there don't know when or where to meet them.
On top of that, the lawyers said, Bautista-Mayorga and her son were not allowed to take their suitcases with them, leaving them with no change of clothing and Noah without a blue dinosaur toy that was a gift from Inestroza.
Inestroza was sent to the Morgan County, Mo., Jail to await deportation proceedings. He is being held without bond.
The Star's Rick Montgomery contributed to this report.