9/29: News from the US-Mexico Border
An Occational Series by Border Information Project
Los Angeles, CA
[the following five news are complied by Immigration News Briefs from
Nicaragua Solidarity Network]
1. Immigration Officer Rapes Detainee
2. Border Patrol Detains Freedom Riders
3. OAS Court Defends Migrant Rights
4. New Jersey Detainees Moved
5. Three More Die on Arizona Border
6. AZ: Sheriff's office investigating kidnapping, torture of illegal
immigrants (Arizona Daily Star)
7. LAWG Border Issues sample letter
8. Santa Rosa, CA: Local United Farm Workers Need Your Support
1. IMMIGRATION OFFICER RAPES DETAINEE
On Sept. 24, police in Springdale, Arkansas police arrested
immigration transportation officer Curtis Hall and charged him
with raping a Turkish woman in his custody. On Sept. 25, after
talking to Washington County prosecutors, police changed the
charge to sexual assault in the 3rd degree. The detainee had been
held at the Washington County Jail for two months awaiting
deportation. She said Hall was taking her back to the jail from a
doctor's appointment on Sept. 23 when he stopped off at a motel
and raped her. Hall initially denied taking the detainee to the
room, but later changed his story and claimed the sex was
Hall works for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
(BCIS) office in Nashville, Tennessee; he had been living at the
motel for several weeks while assigned to temporary duty in
northwest Arkansas. As of Sept. 25, Hall was being held at the
Washington County Jail. [KPOM (Arkansas) 9/24/03, 9/25/03;
Associated Press 9/25/03; NewsChannel 5 (Arkansas) 9/25/03]
2. BORDER PATROL DETAINS FREEDOM RIDERS
The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, a cross-country caravan
backed by organized labor and civil rights organizations, was
launched on Sept. 20 in cities around the US. Inspired by the
1961 freedom rides that fought to end segregation in the South,
the caravan features 18 buses departing from 10 cities with
nearly 1,000 immigrants and supporters on board, with the goal of
building a new civil rights movement. The buses will stop in more
than 100 cities to focus on immigrant rights; the riders will
then meet with members of Congress in Washington, DC on Oct. 1
before ending the trip with a mass rally in Queens, New York, on
Oct. 4. [New York Times 9/25/03; AP 9/26/03]
On Sept. 26 two buses from Los Angeles carrying some 100 Freedom
Riders were held up for nearly four hours at a US Border Patrol
station near Sierra Blanca, Texas, about 75 miles southeast of El
Paso. Freedom Ride spokesperson Hilda Delgado said Border Patrol
officials stopped the buses at a checkpoint; after the riders
sang solidarity songs on the buses, the agents made them get off
to be questioned in a nearby building. The riders showed agents
their Freedom Ride cards, which say that the ride is peaceful,
that they exercise their right to remain silent, and that they
don't consent to a search and don't give up any rights. Freedom
Ride attorneys were also on the buses. No one was arrested, and
the riders were finally allowed to proceed en route to San
Antonio. Border Patrol spokesperson Mario Villarreal said the
stop was routine, and no immigration violations were detected.
Villarreal said agents had trouble questioning riders on the bus
because of the singing.
Nearly 100 people rallied in Los Angeles on Sept. 26 to protest
the detention of the Freedom Ride. Cardinal Roger Mahony, head of
the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, sent a letter to
President George W. Bush, calling the checkpoint stop
"counterproductive." [AP 9/26/03]
3. OAS COURT DEFENDS MIGRANT RIGHTS
The Inter-American Human Rights Court, a branch of the
Organization of American States (OAS), has ruled that
undocumented immigrant workers in the US have the same rights as
other workers, Mexican officials announced on Sept. 25. According
to Patricia Olamendi, Mexico's deputy secretary of foreign
relations, the ruling says states have a duty to defend the basic
human rights of workers at private companies. The Mexican
government filed a complaint with the OAS court last year after
the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Hoffman Plastics company
did not have to pay back wages to an undocumented worker who was
fired because of union activities [see INB 3/29/02]. [AP 9/26/03]
4. NEW JERSEY DETAINEES MOVED
In New Jersey, some 45 immigration detainees were moved on Sept.
22-23 from Passaic County Jail in Paterson to Hudson County Jail
in Kearny. Those transferred include Nigel Maccado and Hemnauth
Mohabir, who had gone on hunger strike at Passaic earlier in the
summer over demands including transfer to Hudson, where
conditions are said to be better and contact visits are allowed
[see INB 7/5/03]. Maccado said he was relieved to be at Hudson.
Bill Maer, a spokesperson for the Passaic County Sheriff's
Department, said the detainees were moved as part of the "ongoing
reorganization" of the immigration service, which became part of
the Department of Homeland Security in March. Maer said he
expects no change in the number of immigration detainees housed
at Passaic. Kerry Gill, a spokesperson for the Bureau of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) in Newark, said
detainees are moved based on a review of individual
circumstances; he provided no further information concerning
reasons for the move. [Herald News (Paterson) 9/24/03]
5. THREE MORE DIE ON ARIZONA BORDER
On Sept. 16, Border Patrol agents discovered the body of a 30-
year-old man from Mexico in the desert near Sentinel in
southwestern Arizona, in the Border Patrol's Yuma sector. On
Sept. 20 police found the body of a 29-year old Salvadoran woman
in Douglas, Arizona, in the Border Patrol's Tucson sector. On
Sept. 23 the body of another woman was found near Arivaca, in the
Tucson sector. [Arizona Republic (Phoenix) 9/18/03; Yuma Sun
9/17/03; Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) 9/23/03, 9/26/03]
6. AZ: Sheriff's office investigating kidnapping, torture of illegal immigr
By Eric Swedlund
© 2003 Arizona Daily Star
Pima County sheriff's deputies Wednesday arrested a 19-year-old man
suspected of kidnapping three illegal entrants and torturing two of them
with pliers and a screwdriver while he held them for several hours in a
mobile home near Three Points.
Hector Soria was booked into the Pima County jail on charges of aggravated
assault, unlawful imprisonment and theft by extortion, said Lt. Bob
Kimmins, head of the department's violent crimes unit.
About 8 a.m. Tuesday, deputies were called to the Three Points area on a
report of suspicious activity and found a 29-year-old illegal entrant, who
said he had been kidnapped and forced to watch two other men being
tortured, said Detective Lisa Flores, who investigated the case.
Flores gave the following account:
A Guatemalan citizen, David Morales, said he was with a group of illegal
entrants trekking through the desert and had gone for several days without
food or water when he came across a home in the Three Points area. The
homeowners gave him and two others food and other help.
Later, two men came to the area and held the three men inside another
mobile home on the same 5-acre lot.
There, the two demanded money or phone numbers of relatives of the illegal
entrants and tortured two when they refused.
With that information, the sheriff's SWAT team obtained a search warrant
and went to the area and found the home, with one of the victims still
inside. The man, 21-year-old Roselin Rodriguez Bravo, of Chiapas, had
superficial cuts on his face, throat, chest and arms and deep cuts to his
shin. Bravo also had his toenails pulled up and his two front teeth were
pulled out, Flores said.
Authorities have not been able to locate the third victim, a 17- or 18-year-
old male from Chiapas, but believe he may have been injured worse during
the torture, Kimmins said.
=============================================================7. LAWG Border
Issues sample letter
Date: 9/26/2003 10:33:10 AM Pacific Daylight Time
Since September 11, 2001, the US government has taken steps to increase
security along the border, which has in turn served to push migrants looking
to enter the US in search of work, family reunification, and a better life
into ever more perilous borderlands. Deaths this year in the Arizona desert
are at an all-time high, having reached over 153 victims so far this year,
and we continue to see a pattern in this state that stresses border
enforcement in urban and peri-urban areas that send migrants into the
hottest stretches of desert to seek entry into the US.
However, Arizona is not the only part of the border that is affected by
these policies. Recently, the Border Patrol has released its final plans to
build 14 miles of fencing in the San Diego, California area. This is not a
new fence - there are already over 40 miles of fencing in a 60 mile stretch
from the Pacific Ocean to central California. The newest construction,
known as the "triple fence" is a reinforcing fence that will run behind two
currently existing fences in the area. The new fence will run through
nature preserves and harm many endangered species in the area. And the
reinformement of the San Diego border will only serve to push migrants into
the California and Arizona deserts looking for safe passage into the US.
The "triple fence" is not yet a reality. Currently, the proposal is under
review by the California Costal Commission, which has jurisdiction over
costal construction. They have invited public comment from around the
nation right now on the fence until September 30. Please take a moment to
look at our sample letter on this issue. From there, you can either print
our letter and sign your name to it, make personal changes to the letter, or
use it as a model for your own personal thoughts on the matter.
Thanks for your interest in making our border with Mexico a safe place for
everyone who crosses!
The California Coastal Commission
Federal Consistency Supervisor
45 Fremont Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-2219
RE: Environmental Impact Statement for the Completion of the 14-mile Border
Infrastructure System in San Diego, California
Dear Mr. Delaplaine,
Please accept my comments on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for
the 14-mile Border Infrastructure System in San Diego, CA. I am concerned
that the EIS does not address the impact that the proposed construction may
have on migrants crossing the border. I am also concerned that more
construction along our border will result in more migrant deaths.
Starting in 1994, the Border Patrol began to tighten control over urban
areas along the border, believing that migrants would not risk their lives
crossing in the remote, dangerous areas like the deserts of California and
Arizona. The proposed construction in San Diego is part of this larger,
border-wide strategy to deter migration.
However, over the last ten years, the policy of tightening control over
urban areas has not stemmed the flow of migrants into the United States.
Instead, we have seen that migrants are willing to risk their lives to enter
the US through more remote areas. In ten years of implementation of urban
infrastructure projects like that proposed for the San Diego area, there has
not been a decrease in the number of migrants that cross the southwest
border as a whole.
I believe that these policies are not effective at stopping migration into
the US. Before the Border Patrol continues to spend money and resources in
construction projects, it should evaluate the effectiveness of these
projects not only as a strategy for addressing migration in specific local
areas, but as a strategy for the entire southwest border. The current EIS
fails to discuss the role that the construction project could play in
shifting migration to different areas of the border, and should do so.
I also feel strongly that because the migrant community is the target of the
proposed construction projects, the EIS should evaluate the impact that the
projects will have on the lives of the migrants who are entering the US.
The current EIS states that "the proposed infrastructure construction could
indirectly result in increased deaths of immigrants." This statement sends
a clear message that the project will have an impact on human lives, but
there is no further discussion of this issue anywhere else in the document,
nor any proposed plans to prevent the loss of life resulting from the
project. Since the Border Patrol began serious construction of fencing
projects in the San Diego area in 1998, their own statistics show that at
least 108 migrants have died in the San Diego Sector alone. I find the EIS'
lack of attention to this issue extremely disturbing.
The current Border Patrol Southwest Border Strategy has not been effective
in deterring illegal migration into the US, has spread the environmental and
social impacts of migration along the southwest border, and has contributed
to the skyrocketing number of migrant deaths. Despite these facts, the same
types of projects continue to be proposed. I feel strongly that the Border
Patrol must analyze and address these critical issues as a first step to
devising a more humane and effective border policy.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Border Patrol activities. I
hope that my comments will prompt further study of the impact of Border
Patrol projects on its target population - migrants.
Best Regards -
Sean Mariano Garcia
Senior Associate, Latin America Working Group
T: 202/546-7010 F: 202/543-7647 sgarcia@...
8. Santa Rosa, CA: Local United Farm Workers Need Your Support
From: "Terri Moon"
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 22:21:45 -0700
I'm writing to you because I believe you support the cause of Cesar
Chavez and the rights of farm workers to bargain collectively to
improve their wages and working conditions. Locally, the Union has
suffered some losses, as workers at Sonoma-Cutrer voted to decertify
the Union, and Gallo conducted a campaign to persuade its workers to do
the same. The Gallo votes are locked in the office of an Agricultural
Labor Relations judge pending the outcome of charges of unfair
A group of us have responded to the call from the Santa Rosa office of
the UFW, from Salvador (Chava) Mendoza and Nati Ramirez, to assist with
their effort to raise funds to pay workers who would lose their day's
wages to participate on the bargaining team. At Gallo, bargaining is
to begin again at the end of September and may go on, off and on, for
weeks. Other units will have bargaining for new contracts in the
coming year, as well. The companies, universally, have more resources
to bring to bear than does the Union. This is especially true at
Gallo. They can delay and stretch out contract bargaining and make
life very difficult for workers who must otherwise go unpaid during
bargaining sessions. This process lowers the workers' morale and can
lead, along with misleading promises from the company, to the decision
to decertify the Union, even on the eve of final contract negotiations,
as it did at Sonoma-Cutrer.
Here in Sonoma County, we have decided to reach out to past and likely
future supporters to ask for $25 donations to support the bargaining
teams. In return for your donation, we shall send you either a ticket
to a dinner on October 11, 2003 or, if you cannot attend that night, a
UFW T-shirt. We offer a chicken molee dinner and are organizing
dancers, music and speakers from the Union for the event. The dinner
will begin at 6:30 p.m. on that Saturday, and will be held at the
Carpenter's Labor Center, 1700 Corby Avenue, Santa Rosa (Baker St. exit
from 101). (If you cannot attend, please let us know your T-shirt
Please make your check to: COMITE LAZARO CARDENAS and send it to UFW -
Santa Rosa, 1700 Corby Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95407. Thank you for
your support at this critical time for the local office of the UFW.
US-Mexico Border Actions
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