Dame La Mano Shelter Searched by Federal Agents, Families Moved
Sept. 4, 2012
EL PASO, Texas – A homeless shelter that has been under the microscope for about a year is now under the watch of ICE Homeland Security Investigations.
Federal agents searched the women’s shelter near Segundo Barrio Tuesday morning.
Investigators sifted through documents and took boxes with them.
Thirty people, including 22 children, were taken to the Salvation Army.
An ICE spokeswoman confirmed to ABC-7 that this is all part of an investigation into the shelter, but didn’t give any other details.
One of the women who was at Dame La Mano and was taken to the Salvation Army spoke ABC-7.
“The ICE agents told us that they are getting 30 days to get everything up to standard and if they don’t, they’re going to go ahead and close it back down but I’m not going back there. I wouldn’t go back there,” Monique said.
The ICE spokeswoman said it executed two search warrants at about 6 a.m. – one at the home of the shelter owner, Rosa Cabrera, and one at the shelter itself.
“No arrests were made and the center reopened its doors this morning. City inspectors found some code violations, but the shelter was not closed. The center says violations were minimal and can be repaired within the 30-days time given by the city,” read a news release by Dame La Mano on its Facebook page. Read the full statement by clicking on it under related content.
The organization also said in its statement that “Dame La Mano’s employees and supporters do not know why the center was raided by ICE but suspects that it involves criticism of City Representative Cortney Niland and City Manager Joyce Wilson.”
In December, Wilson said in a City Council meeting that the homeless shelter was under investigation after allegations of fraud and potential misuse of funds.
Dame La Mano’s shelter was court-ordered to close in September 2011 because of possible hazardous living conditions, city officials said. Since then, allegations of fraud have surfaced.
Because of the on-going investigation, the City in December could not release previously approved federal grant money to the shelter.
“We do have one open case that we’re working with the district attorney’s office at this point,” Eric Shelton, an El Paso Police assitant chief told City Council in December after the shelter’s executive director told the city representatives the case had been dismissed.
ABC-7 is waiting for an update on that investigation.