By now, the whole world has heard about Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, the 11-year-old boy from Guatemala whose body was found June 15 near La Joya, Texas. Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra, who disclosed several details about the boy on Monday, speculated that the boy may have died from heat exposure because he was shirtless. The boy had on his pants with belt and boots.
Officials also speculated that he may have gotten separated from the smuggler who led him and others to the border. Texas authorities were able to identify him after they called a relative's phone number in Chicago that was found written inside the boy's belt. The Associated Press reported in a story today "Guatemalan boy's mother begged him not to travel" that the boy's relatives last heard from him about 25 days before his body found. His birth certificate, the AP story reported, said he was 11.
It's hard to fathom that a boy that young would venture alone on a long and hazardous trip that ended for him in death.
Officials and migrant advocacy organizations have revealed that drug cartels have hijacked the human-trafficking business, and are charging undocumented immigrants thousands of dollars for passage through Mexico to the U.S. border. They and or their accomplices allegedly also are spreading rumors in Central American countries that children will not be arrested if they cross the border and surrender to Border Patrol agents. Families, ususally a mother with children are making the trek that often involves hopping the "bestia" (beast) train and navigating through a gauntlet of extortionists, rapists and killers. The companies that operate the trains and own the railroads have been moslty silent about this ongoing criminal entreprise that enriches the drug gangs, human traffickers, corrupt officers and the big cartel organizations.
Critics of the White House administration blame U.S. immigration enforcement and deportation policies for Central Americans, some which date back to the George W. Bush era and before that. Other critics blame U.S. foreign policy in Central America during the 1980s and 1990s for the dire economic conditions and insecurity that exist after protracted periods of civil war and political instability.
So, who or what killed 11-year-old Gilberto from Guatemala? It seems like there's plenty of blame to go around.
(The ACLU today released the results of an investigation into immigrant prisons operated by private companies that contrac with the U.S. government. The following is a copy of the ACLU's press release and a link to its report.)
ACLU Finds Abuse, Inhumane Conditions, at Little-Known Prisons for Immigrants Run by Private Companies for Federal Government
Report Shows Federal Bureau of Prisons Incentivizes Mistreatment, Shields Immigrant Prisons from Scrutiny
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2014
NEW YORK – Today the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Texas released the report Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison Industry, a devastating look into the secretive “Criminal Alien Requirement” or “CAR” prisons for immigrants. In a four-year investigation of five CAR prisons in Texas, our researchers found pervasive and disturbing patterns of neglect and abuse of the prisoners–all non-citizens, most of whom have been convicted only of immigration offenses (such as unlawfully reentering the country).
“At the CAR prisons we investigated, the prisoners lived day to day not knowing if their basic human needs would be met, whether they would get medical attention if they were hurt or ill,” said Carl Takei, Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “The Bureau of Prisons creates perverse incentives for the for-profit prison companies to endanger human health and lives.”
In total, the 13 CAR prisons across the country hold more than 25,000 immigrants. Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, noted, “Every year we lock away tens of thousands of immigrants simply for unlawfully crossing the border. Why waste hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars on inhumane prisons when we could use civil proceedings to process these cases? The CAR prisons come with a moral and economic price tag we can’t afford.”
The report details the relationship between each of the three companies that run them–CCA, GEO Group, and MTC–and the federal Bureau of Prisons, including the ways that the Bureau and the companies work together to cover up the prisons’ conditions.
“Ten percent of the bed space in CAR prisons is contractually reserved for extreme isolation–nearly double the rate of isolation in normal federal prisons. I spoke to prisoners who spent weeks in isolation cells after being sent there upon intake–simply arriving at prison was the reason why they were locked in a cell and fed through a slot for 23 hours a day,” said Takei. “The shameful conditions inside CAR prisons are a direct result of the government’s decision to allow suffering inside these for-profit prisons.”
In Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison Industry, the ACLU and the ACLU of Texas tell the stories of prisoners who have been torn from their families by the extreme distances (often 1,000 miles or more) between a CAR prison and a prisoner’s hometown and by the high phone rates the private prison companies charge for phone calls.
Among its recommendations to the federal government, the report calls on the Bureau of Prisons to strengthen oversight of CAR prisons, end the use of contractually binding occupancy quotas for CAR prisons, and stop spending taxpayer money to shield basic information about private prisons from public disclosure. It also urges the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to return immigration enforcement to civil immigration authorities.
The report is available at:
This press release is available at:
Mexico main country of origin for most U.S. deportations
By Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times
Hispanics made up 97 percent of the people that the U.S. government deported in 2013, according to a new report released today.
The report "Detention, Deportation, and Devastation: The Disproportionate Effect of Deportations on the Latino Community," also shows that deportations to Mexico (241,493) represented 65.5 percent of the deportees, followed by Guatemala (47,769), which had about 13 percent of the deportees.
The rest of the Hispanic or Latino countries in the top 10 countries for deportations were Honduras (37,049), El Salvador (21,602), Dominican Republic (2,462), Ecuador (1,616), Brazil (1,500), Colombia (1,429), Nicaragua (1,383), and Jamaica (1,119).
"The overrepresentation of Latinos in deportations is not simply a byproduct of the large undocumented Latino population, but also a direct result of discriminatory policies at the federal, state and local level," asserts the report, which was prepared jointly by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.
DEA news release today
Money was being wired from bank accounts in Colombia to bank accounts in Colorado for purchase of marijuana grow facility
DENVER – Hector Diaz, age 49, David Jeffrey Furtado, age 48, Luis Fernand Uribe, age 28, and Gerardo Uribe, age 33, were named in a just unsealed superseding indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Denver on April 22, 2014, federal law enforcement agencies announced. The superseding indictment alleges violations of federal firearms law and money laundering related to marijuana laws. Diaz, who was previously charged, was sent a summons to appear in court Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Furtado and Luis Uribe were arrested on Friday, April 25, 2014. Furtado and Luis Uribe made their initial appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland, where they were advised of their rights and the charges pending against them. Gerardo Uribe has been charged but is not in custody. He is currently considered a fugitive from justice. Furtado, Luis Uribe, and Hector Diaz are scheduled to be back in court on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
The superseding indictment includes the original charge that Hector Diaz illegally possessed a firearm. The superseding indictment further alleges that Diaz committed visa fraud by making a false statement regarding the purpose of his visit to the United States.
The superseding indictment alleges that all four defendants conspired with each other and others known and unknown to the grand jury, to commit offenses against the United States. The manner and means of their conspiracy include:
· Affect the international transfer of funds from the Republic of Colombia into the United States to facilitate the purchase of real property, with existing physical structures, located at 5200 East Smith Road, in Denver, Colorado.
· The defendants intended to permit the use of the Smith Road property to cultivate, manufacture, and/or distribute marijuana.
· In 2013, Gerardo Uribe filed documents with the Colorado Secretary of State to incorporate a company known as Colorado West Metal, LLC. Attorney David Furtado was the registered agent. Hector Diaz was listed as the person responsible for forming the corporation.
· Furtado opened a bank account at Wells Fargo in the name of Colorado West Metal, LLC, and was the sole signor on that account.
· Furtado used his attorney trust account, held in the name of his law firm, to facilitate the purchase of the Smith Road property.
· It was part of the conspiracy for Furtado, Gerardo Uribe and Hector Diaz to communicate regarding a wire transfer associated with Colorado West Metal, which was later used to purchase the Smith Road property.
· On November 7, 2013, Furtado transferred $424,000 from the Colorado West Metal Wells Fargo account to a Colorado First Bank account, held in the name of Land Title Guarantee Company.
· The conspirators caused and/or agreed for Land Title Guarantee Company to transfer those same funds to Westerra Credit Union – the mortgagor for the Smith Road property.
· Between November 1, 2013 and November 4, 2013, Furtado made and caused to be made two separate wire transfers in the amount of $200,000 each from his attorney trust account into the Colorado First Bank account in the name of Land Title Guarantee to facilitate the purchase of the Smith Road property.
· Members of the conspiracy deposited, and attempted to deposit into financial institutions, and/or converted to cashier’s checks and/or bulk U.S. currency (cash) to facilitate the purchase of the Smith Road property. These bulk currency amounts included proceeds from the cultivation and sale of marijuana.
· On October 31, 2013, Furtado met with Gerardo Uribe and obtained $449,980 in U.S. currency (cash). Those funds represented proceeds of specified unlawful activity, namely the cultivation and sale of marijuana, as derived through the operation of the “VIP Wellness Center”, operated by Gerardo Uribe, Luis Uribe and others.
The superseding indictment also alleges that Diaz, Furtado and Gerardo Uribe did transfer $424,000 using wire transfers from the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argenteria (BVVA) in the Republic of Colombia to the Colorado West Metal, LLC Wells Fargo account with the intent to cultivate, manufacture and distribute marijuana. Also, Furtado did two wire transfers, one for $100,000 and a second for $20,000 from the Banco de Occidente, in the Republic of Colombia, to his attorney trust account with Wells Fargo in Colorado, with the intent to promote the cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana.
Finally, Furtado, Luis Uribe and Gerardo Uribe did knowingly engage in money laundering by and through a financial institution affecting interstate and foreign commerce, in criminally derived property greater than $10,000; that is, the attempted deposit of $449,980 in U.S. Currency (cash) into a Wells Fargo bank account, with such property having been derived from a specified unlawful activity, namely the cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana.
The superseding indictment includes an asset forfeiture allegation, which includes the firearms possessed by Diaz, and the money derived from the unlawful activity, namely the cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance.
The investigation and charges closely follow the guidance provided by the Department of Justice in August 2013. More than one of the enforcement priorities outlined in the Department guidance are implicated in this ongoing criminal matter.
In the superseding indictment, Hector Diaz is named in counts one, two, three and four. David Furtado is named in counts three, four, five, six and seven. Luis Uribe is named in counts three and seven. Gerardo Uribe is named in counts three, four and seven.
Count one is possession of a firearm by a prohibited possessor. If convicted, the defendant faces not more than 10 years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine. Count two is false statements with respect to a material fact. If convicted, the defendant faces not more than 20 years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine. Count three is conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted, the defendants face not more than 20 years imprisonment, and a $500,000 fine (or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater). Count four is money laundering and aiding and abetting the same. If convicted, the defendants face not more than 20 years imprisonment, and a $500,000 fine (or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater). Counts five and six are money laundering and aiding and abetting the same. If convicted, the defendants face not more than 20 years imprisonment, and a $500,000 fine (or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater). Count seven is engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. If convicted, the defendants face not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.
This case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS CI), and the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Services (DSS). This investigation is ongoing, and no further information outside of the superseding indictment can or will be provided.
The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys M.J. Menendez and Bradley Giles. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Andrews is handling the asset forfeiture aspect of this case.
By Diand Washington Valdez/El Paso Times
Fusion recently reported that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in El Paso held 40 pregnant women in custody during the past year.
Fusion, a new national English-language digital TV network affiliated with Univision's Jorge Ramos, cited a document obtained under FOIA for this statistic.
The El Paso Times mentioned Fusion's story in a separately, and also requested the same information under the Freedom of Information Act. ICE in Washington, D.C., sent us the document (received today) that indicates that 40 pregnant women were indeed detained at the ICE jail between Dec. 19, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2013.
ICE-El Paso, probably due to Fusion's report, no longer has any pregnant women in custody.
The detainees are not identified by name, but the list indicates that one of them was held for more than fourth months. Others were booked out the same day or the next day after their detention.
A footnote in the document states that "ICE does not track or maintain records of detainee miscarriages."
(Fusion is available in El Paso on AT&T U-Verse and will soon be available on Dish. It is not currently offered by Time Warner Cable or Direct TV.)
This is a verbatim copy of the news release issued today by the US Attorney's Office in New Mexico
April 10, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE – Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department today announced its findings that the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the Constitution and federal law. The Justice Department delivered a letter setting forth these findings to Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry and Police Chief Gorden Eden this morning.
The investigation was launched on November 27, 2012, and conducted jointly by the Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico. The investigation examined whether APD engages in an unconstitutional pattern or practice of excessive force, including deadly force, as well as the cause of any pattern or practice of a violation of the law. This investigation did not assess whether any conduct violated criminal laws. Specific cases have been referred to the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division for consideration.
The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that APD engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Department specifically found three patterns of excessive force:
· APD officers too frequently use deadly force against people who pose a minimal threat and in situations where the conduct of the officers heightens the danger and contributes to the need to use force;
· APD officers use less lethal force, including electronic controlled weapons, on people who are passively resisting, non-threatening, observably unable to comply with orders, or pose only a minimal threat to the officers; and
· Encounters between APD officers and persons with mental illness and in crisis too frequently result in a use of force or a higher level of force than necessary.
The Justice Department also found systemic deficiencies of the APD, which contribute to these three patterns, including: deficient policies, failed accountability systems, inadequate training, inadequate supervision, ineffective systems of investigation and adjudication, the absence of a culture of community policing, and a lack of sufficient civilian oversight.
The Department’s investigation involved an in-depth review of APD documents, as well as extensive community engagement. The Department reviewed thousands of pages of documents, including written policies and procedures, internal reports, data, video footage, and investigative files. Department attorneys and investigators, assisted by policing experts, also conducted interviews with APD officers, supervisors and command staff, city officials; and hundreds of interviews with community members and local advocates.
“We are very concerned by the results of our investigation and look forward to working with the City of Albuquerque to develop a set of robust and durable reforms,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “Our work to assist police departments around the nation is intended to advance important principles. Holding police accountable for Constitutional practices improves public confidence, promotes public safety and makes the job of providing police services safer, easier and more effective. Public trust has been broken in Albuquerque, but it can be repaired through this process.”
“Today’s groundbreaking announcement marks a critical milestone in addressing problems that have plagued our community and the Albuquerque Police Department for years,” said Damon Martinez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. “These findings come at a unique time for the City and theAlbuquerque Police Department, and provide a blueprint for changing the culture of the Albuquerque Police Department and for rebuilding broken relationships with the community it serves. Although there are difficult and systemic issues to resolve, we embrace these challenges and are very optimistic for the future of theAlbuquerque Police Department.”
The Justice Department looks forward to continued cooperation with the City and Albuquerque Police Department to timely resolve these findings under mutually agreeable terms that will provide accountability to the public and accomplish the remedial measures within a fixed period of time.
Sunshine & Shadows: Public Records and the New Mexico Mental Health Audit
Thursday, March 20 - Zuhl Library, 3rd Floor
5:00-6:00 p.m. PROGRAM
6:00-6:30 p.m. RECEPTION
Program Outline – (TK)
Welcome/Introductions/Order of Events (2-3 minutes)
April Anaya, NMSU Library
Tribute to Margaret Markham (10 minutes)
Todd Dickson, Las Cruces Bulletin
Diana Washington Valdez, El Paso Times
Panel discussion – (30-35 minutes)
Moderator: Ruth Burkhart—Professor, School of Nursing, NMSU
Panelists: Heath Haussamen—New Mexico In Depth; Mary Kay Papen—New Mexico Legislature; Walt Rubel—Las Cruces Sun-News
Q&A – (10-15 minutes)
U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) issued the following press release Thursday. This is a verbatim copy of the release:
DALLAS – The four Texas field offices within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) have deported more than 860 sex offenders so far this fiscal year.
Of the 862 alien sex offenders deported by the Texas-based offices, about 27 percent were convicted of sex offenses against children.
ICE’s four Texas field offices are located in Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio. The Dallas area of responsibility includes 128 counties in north Texas, and the state of Oklahoma. Dallas ERO deported 171 sex offenders so far in fiscal year 2014; 47 were convicted of sex offenses against a minor. In all of fiscal year 2013, the office deported 463 sex offenders; 154 were convicted of sex offenses against a minor. In 2013, all four Texas offices deported 2,124 sex offenders; 508 were convicted of sex offenses against a minor. In fiscal year 2012, Texas ERO offices deported 2,007 sex offenders, and 2,127 in 2011.
ICE officers routinely apprehend removable convicted sex offenders during targeted enforcement operations, or they are turned over to ICE custody when local/state jails or prisons release them after they serve their prison sentences. Additionally, ICE and the Texas Department of Public Safety have begun to regularly share information on sex offenders. This partnership allows ICE to cross-reference the list of sex offenders provided from the state to determine if they are removable aliens.
"Identifying and locating aliens convicted of sex offenses and other serious crimes are a high priority for our fugitive operations teams," said Thomas P. Giles, field office director for ERO Dallas. "Ultimately, our efforts to remove these criminals from our streets, our communities and our country have a positive impact on public safety."
Some of the more egregious offenses of the criminal alien sex offenders deported throughout Texas include: sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Following are some of the sex offenders deported by officers with the ERO Dallas office: (In accordance with Department of Homeland Security privacy policies, ICE cannot include the names of those deported.)
Nationwide, ICE has removed more than 72,000 aliens with criminal convictions so far this fiscal year. These removals represent the agency’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators.
This blog is an ongoing discussion of news and events related to the border. Depending on which dictionary you follow, border is defined as outer part or edge (Merriam-Webster), or a line between two countries (Oxford). In this part of the world, our geographical borders include the U.S.- Mexico, Texas-Chihuahua and El Paso-Juárez. Diana Washington Valdez is an author-journalist who has reported on border issues for the El Paso Times for more than 15 years.
Follow Diana Washington Valdez on Twitter @EPTimesDiana
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org