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March 20, 2019

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Woman detained by immigration officials threatens lawsuit

Cecilia Gomez

Chris Kudialis

Cecilia Gomez, left, stands with her attorney Laura Barrera at a news conference in front of a U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement office in Las Vegas on Thursday, April 26, 2018.

Updated Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 1:18 p.m.

A Las Vegas mother who spent 10 days in federal custody after being detained by immigration authorities is planning to sue the U.S. government, her representatives said today.

Cecilia Gomez alleges she was injured at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in downtown Las Vegas. She was taken there after she was detained March 27 at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in the south valley, where she had gone for an application for permanent residency.

The arrest stemmed from an outstanding deportation warrant from 1998 for failure to appear in immigration court.

Laura Barrera, an attorney with the UNLV Immigration Clinic, today filed a request under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act for surveillance video from the USCIS and ICE offices during Gomez’s detainment.

Barrera and Bliss Requa-Trautz of the Las Vegas Workers Center said the FOIA request would produce evidence of an assault. Standing at Gomez’s side this morning during a media conference, they declined to further describe the alleged assault.

“ICE will be held accountable for the actions they took,” Requa-Trautz said. “If they’ve got nothing to hide, they should release the videos.”

ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley called allegations of officer assault on Gomez “patently false.”

Gomez spoke publicly for the first time today since an April 9 news conference where she said in a prepared statement that she was “brutally assaulted,” though she did not elaborate.

Gomez spent 10 days in federal custody and was transported to detention centers in Colorado, Texas and Arizona before being released in Las Vegas on April 7, Requa-Trautz said.

Per terms of her supervised release, Gomez must regularly check in at the ICE office in downtown Las Vegas and petition for residency in federal immigration court. Gomez’s first check-in is scheduled for May 9, and her first court appearance is set for May 22.