By Miriam Raftery
August 21, 2014 (Sacramento)—Over 50,000 unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America have streamed across U.S. borders, seeking help to escape desperate situations. Now some California lawmakers want to assure that kids facing a humanitarian crisis will receive full legal hearings to determine if they may be eligible for asylum, refugee status, or deportation. A new bill would provide $3 million to nonprofit groups to expand legal services for the children.
After visiting a detention center recently, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) told reporters, “I think we all came away with a feeling that these kids really needed our support, that it was about their safety, their due process, the ability to look beyond bigger political considerations and deal with a humanitarian crisis.”
“We expressed our concern over the current debate that is focusing on sending the children back while we believe it should be focusing on the care and safety of the children.”—Doug Brunson, UCCLM Committee on Border Justice
View or sign petition: http://tableucc.com/witness/sign-the-petition-central-american-refugee-crisis/
Over 50,000 young children have crossed the border to seek refugee status in the U.S. this year. Some are fleeing gang violence and drug trafficking, others are escaping grinding poverty or trying to reunite with family already in the United States. Many have paid large sums to smugglers and made dangerous journeys atop trains to get here from Central America, only to be placed in overcrowded, often unhealthy holding facilities while awaiting determination of their status by understaffed courts. Some have also endured the verbal abuse of militant protestors seeking to banish them back to the horrors from which they fled.
Inspired by The Rev. Kaji Douŝa’s sermon on Sunday, July 13, members of the United Church of Christ of La Mesa gathered to discuss the child immigration crisis and how the congregation, as a justice-oriented church, should respond.
April 13, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Drug smugglers have been using ultralight aircraft to smuggle narcotics over the border. The U.S. Border Patrol asks the public to report sightings of suspicious ultralight aircraft.
Updated February 24, 2014 with identities of agent and suspect
February 18, 2014 (Otay)—A U.S. Border Patrol agent who was struck by a thrown rock shot and killed Jesus Flores-Cruz, 43 , who died at the scene. The shooting occurred at 6:40 this morning in the White Cross area of the Otay Mountain Range. The identity of the deceased, who sustained two gunshot wounds, was confirmed by comparing fingerprints from a 1996 arrest by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
According to San Diego Sheriff Homicide Lt. Glenn Giannatonio, the agents were attempting to detain a group of suspected illegal aliens. “The two agents were out of sight of each when one of the agents was struck in the face by a rock thrown by one of the suspects. Fearing for his safety, the agent fired,” he said, adding that the agent suffered minor injuries.
By Miriam Raftery
February 6, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC) issued a press release last week headlined “Disturbing images show border agents encouraging children to shoot at migrant effigy.”
In response, U.S. Border Patrol Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Rosario “Pete” Vasquez called statements in that release “unfortunate and false propaganda.”
Critics dispute administration figures
By Miriam Raftery
January 26, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The Obama administration is on track to deport over 2 million people, according to a new report from the University of California-Merced. That’s about the same number deported under the Bush administration, but more than the U.S. deported during over a century from the late 1890s to the late 1990s.
On average, those deported had lived in the U.S. for 14 years, leading to concerns that the Criminal Alien Program is tearing apart families. A quarter of all people deported since mid-2010 are parents with children in the U.S., including parents of American citizens, the report concludes.
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January 1, 2013 (Pine Valley ) – Steven Brian Keith, 58, died in a holding cell on Christmas morning shortly after midnight after being detained for possession of three pounds of marijuana at a Border Patrol checkpoint near Pine Valley. A pipe with methamphetamine traces was also found in the trunk.
According to the County Medical Examiner, Keith was found unresponsive in his holdng cell. Paraemedics were summoned and CPR was initiated, but he failed to respond.
November 28, 2013 (San Diego)-- Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) and the Border Patrol interrupted a drug smuggling attempt involving air drops of marijuana bales from an ultra-light aircraft Monday. Authorities seized over 260 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $157,000. Two suspects were arrested, said Mary Beth Caston with the Border Patrol.
November 27, 2013 (San Diego) – This week, led by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), 20 members of Congress wrote to the Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requesting a meeting to discuss the agency's use of force policies.
Their letter (see below) comes a week after it was reported that CBP has elected not to implement a key recommendation made by the Police Executive Research Forum. The widely respected law enforcement policy organization had urged the agency to restrict the use of deadly force in situations involving rock throwers and people in vehicles. CBP also continues to resist full public disclosure of its use of force policies despite a series of deaths and widespread allegations of abuse involving CBP personnel.
November 27, 2013 (San Diego) --Border Patrol agents working near the U.S. /Mexico International Border yesterday were assaulted with rocks and bottles after pepper spray was used in an effort to stop a large crowd trying to enter the U.S.
According to the Border Patrol, on November 24, more than 100 people illegally crossed the International Border from Mexico one-quarter-mile west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry in the Tijuana River channel.
November 18, 2013 (San Diego) – Marcos Rodriguez-Perez was sentenced today to 56 years in prison for his participation in the July 2009 robbery and murder of United States Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas, Jr. Rodriguez-Perez, a 28-year-old Mexican national, pleaded guilty in August, admitting he was one of three gunmen who lured the agent into a trap to steal his night-vision goggles and then fatally shot him during a struggle. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and kidnaping, robbery of personal property of the United States, and use and carrying of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.
By Nadin Abbott
June 27, 2013 (San Diego)—The United States Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill today with 68 Senators voting for it, and 32 Senators voting against it.
In addition to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants and other provisions, the bill contains many provisions that would impact many in East County, including businesses, agriculture, and bolstering medical personnel.
It also calls for a border security “surge” including hundreds of miles of new border fencing and 18,000 additional federal agents on the U.S.-Mexico border. Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who supports the bill, said it would create “the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
ACLU CLASS ACTION SUIT ALLEGES U.S. OFFICIALS DUPED IMMIGRANTS INTO GIVING UP RIGHTS IN VOLUNTARY DEPORTATIONS
June 23, 2013 (San Diego)--Using misinformation, deception, and coercion, Border Patrol and ICE officers have pressured hundreds, if not thousands, of Mexican nationals with deep roots in the United States into forfeiting their right to a fair hearing and a chance to live here lawfully, alleges the ACLU in a lawsuit filed June 4 in federal court in Los Angeles.
Plaintiffs include the mother of an autistic son who is an American citizen, a grandmother of U.S. citizens, a man with an American wife and children, and a man engaged to marry a U.S. citizen who has since wed his fiance in Mexico. All are barred from returning to the U.S. for at least 10 years.
June 6, 2013 (Jacumba) – Looking to get some exercise with a hike rated “easy”? Jacumba Hikers and Walkers plan a walk along the border fence separating the U.S. and Mexico on Saturday, June 8.
Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Jacumba Lounge on Old Highway 80 in downtown Jacumba Hot Springs. Walk will include the Jacumba Airport and Old Rock House for a total of 3.5 miles round trip. Dogs on leashes are also welcome. Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes.
For more info, contact walk leader Sonia Kara (firstname.lastname@example.org).
By Miriam Raftery
Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News
June 5, 2013 (Campo) – A Border Patrol agent discharged his weapon during a pursuit in Campo early this morning. A suspected drug smuggler was injured by flying glass when the vehicle window shattered, according to a Sheriff’s report, which indicated the agent claims to have fired in self-defense.
Lieutenant Glenn Giannantonio with the San Diego Sheriff’s Homicide Detail said the suspect was treated at a hospital and released to custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.
By Miriam Raftery
April 19, 2013 (San Diego) – A jury today has acquitted U.S. Border Patrol agent Luis Fonseca of using unreasonable force. Fonseca was shown on Border Patrol video strangling a migrant to unconsciousness while the undocumented migrant, Adolfo Cesar Escobar, tood with his hands against a wall waiting to be fingerprinted at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol station. Jurors found the video evidence inconclusive.
“This sends the wrong message to Border Patrol and fuels a culture of impunity in the agency,” said Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego in a statement released today. The rights activist added, “It should never be acceptable to strangle someone who poses no threat, then kick him while he is down and walk away as if no harm had been done.”
March 13, 2013 (San Diego)-- In separate incidents this week, two U.S. Border Patrol agents were assaulted while performing patrol duties in San Diego County, the Border Patrol reports.
The first assault occurred Monday at approximately 8 p.m. in the Otay Mountain area, when a Border Patrol agent attempted to arrest a male undocumented Mexican national who had entered the U.S. illegally. During the arrest, the suspect became assaultive and struck the agent in the face and head, according to a release issued by the U.S. Border Patrol today. After a brief struggle, the agent was able to detain the man. The suspect is being held by the Department of Homeland Security pending charges for assault on a federal agent.
FILNER TO NRC: RESTARTING SAN ONOFRE WOULD BE A “DANGEROUS EXPERIMENT” THREATENING 8.2 MILLION PEOPLE
February 14, 2013 (San Diego) – In a letter sent to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on February 8, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner urged denial of Southern California Edison’s request to restart Unit 2 at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station for five months at 70% as a test to see if similar problems that caused failure of a steam generator at Unit 3 would occur.
Mayor Filner stated bluntly, “The NRC has previously determined that both Unit 2 and Unit 3 steam generators had similar serious design flaws and errors in the computer models used for design. The restart of Unit 2, even at reduced power, is a dangerous experiment that threatens the safety of the 8.2 million Southern California residents living within a 50-mile radius, including much of San Diego.”
January 10, 2013 (Alpine) – The public is invited to the U.S. Border Patrol’s East County Community Forum on January 16 at 6 p.m. The forum will be held in the Alpine Elementary School auditorium, 1850 Alpine Boulevard in Alpine.
The forum will include discussion of community concerns, East County security threats, and the 2012-2016 Strategic Plan. RSVPs are requested to Michael Scappechio, Border Community Liaison Coordinator, at (619)216 4259 or email@example.com.
December 19, 2012 (Jamul) -- U.S. Border Patrol agents intercepted a smuggling attempt on State Route (SR) 94 in Jamul yesterday, resulting in seizure of nearly 26 pounds of methamphetamine.
Agents encountered a U.S. citizen, 49, driving a 2000 BMW at the SR 94 checkpoint near Jamul at 2:45 p.m.. Agents became suspicious of the man’s nervous demeanor and referred him for secondary inspection. A Border Patrol K-9 performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle resulting in an alert.
November 3, 2012 (Tijuana) -- On November 1, 2012, the new border crossing from San Ysidro to Tijuana began operations. The crossing, known as El Chaparral, will have 22 lanes equipped with the latest technology for fast access to Mexico.
Vehicles headed southbound on I-5 will turn right once they reach the border onto the modern facilities which create a more convenient crossing into Tijuana and other locations.
“There is a troubling and growing pattern of abuse and excessive use of force committed by Border Patrol agents; our community demands to know what led to such a brutal act by that plainclothes agent.” – Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee U.S. Mexico Border Program
October 1, 2012 (Chula Vista)—Family members and human rights advocates seek answers from authorities following the bizarre shooting death of Valeria Tachiquin-Alvarado, 32, mother of five young children, by a Border Patrol officer in plainclothes. A candlelight vigil for the victim is planned tonight at 6 p.m.
Witness accounts vary sharply from the initial report released by authorities. The San Diego Medical Examiner has ruled the death a homicide.
September 17, 2012 (San Diego) – Daphne Hearn, Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego FBI Office, and Chris Maston, Director of Field Operations, Customs Border Protection (CBP) announced the arrest of CBP Officer Thomas Silva, age 33, a nine-year veteran with the CBP. Silva was arrested on Friday, September 7 2012, at approximately 8:30 a.m, at the San Ysidro Port of Entry by CBP and FBI Agents assigned to the FBI Border Corruption Task Force (BCTF) pursuant to a federal arrest warrant based on a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, case number 12MJ3305. The complaint charges Silva with wire fraud and concealing a person from arrest.
PAN also rebuked in governor races
By Nadin Abbott
July 2, 2012 (San Diego)-- Enrique Peña Nieto has been declared the winner of Mexico’s federal election yesterday. Mexico, unlike the United States, has a one-term limit for every office, from Mayor to President. His defeat of the PAN counterpart, Josefina Vazquez Mota, was not unexpected. All polling going into the election had Peña Nieto ahead by five to ten points.
By Miriam Raftery
June 26, 2012 (Washington D.C.) – By a 5 to 3 ruling yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that key provisions in an Arizona law targeting immigrants is unconstitutional. The court upheld a controversial police powers provision, however.
Justices made clear that immigration policy is a federal matter which must be determined nationally, rejecting arguments for allowing 50 states to set a patchwork of separate and conflicting immigration policies.
April 20, 2012 (San Diego) – San Diego resident Anastasio Hernandez Rojas was beaten and Tasered to death in a 2010 incident involving Border Patrol. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. members of his family, civic and faith leaders will gather to watch new footage on “Need to Know”, a film that will raise the issue of border brutality to national attention.