February 27, 2009

Commentary:

Justice and the Border

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Finally, law, order and justice are coming back to the federal court system as far as Mexicans are concerned including those who are here illegally.

It is beyond question that everyone, including illegals, are protected by the Constitution. This includes “due process of law,” “search and seizure,” “the right to counsel” and “a fair trial” as well as “a jury of their peers.” On basic rights, no one can question that illegals have these rights.

Two decisions in the past couple of weeks have reinforced the constitutional notion that all people on American territory have these rights. One occurred in Los Angeles but it has some origin in Escondido and Riverside, California, the other in Tucson, Arizona.

A year ago ICE – immigration enforcement officers – raided the Van Nuys Micro Solutions printer-cartridge company and arrested 138 people for being and working in the country illegally. According to them, they had, as required by law and court orders, specific intelligence about the 138 people, but they lied.

Border Patrol agents always say that. Recall that they lied through their teeth several years ago when they conducted illegal immigration sweeps on the streets of Escondido. They willy-nilly picked up Mexican-looking people at bus stops, on buses, or simply walking on the streets and deported them quickly before the justice system caught up with them.

Even though the justice system did not catch up with these rogue and law-breaking agents, the political system did, with the Bush administration putting an end to the illegal sweeps as soon as they hit the news.

This week, in California, a ruling issued Feb. 12 by U.S. Immigration Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor declared that an illegal alien (Gregorio Perez, 24) picked up in this raid was mistreated by agents thus he could not be deported. Her decision includes his allegations that agents violated his civil rights.

Perez and more than 100 other suspects complained that they were mistreated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. 40 challenged their deportation orders.

Despite the judge’s 19-page ruling that allows only Pérez to remain in the United States, his ACLU attorney Ahilan Arulananthm told a Los Angeles newspapers that it sets a precedent for the others arrested in the same raid.

The Judge wrote “(Pérez) states he was held in a cold concrete cell overnight and forced to sleep on the concrete flooring,” the ruling said. “He was also deprived of food and drinking water for approximately 18 hours.

“Under these conditions, ICE agents questioned (him) without informing him of the reasons for his arrest or that his statements could be used against him in removal proceedings.”

Judge Tabaddor made further rulings that detaining him without having prior evidence that he was in the country illegally was illegal and that ICE could not use Pérez’s responses or his Mexican birth certificate against him, because the evidence was obtained from an illegal investigation.

In Tucson, a jury found rancher Roger Barnett liable for assault and inflicting emotional distress on a group of illegal alien Mexicans he detained while they were crossing into the country illegally.

The former deputy sheriff held the illegals at gunpoint, with a vicious barking dog and, according to them, kicked one of the women. He claimed that he nudged her with his boot. The jury found otherwise.

They combined their findings with a fine and punitive damages of $73,000. The jury found for him on civil rights violations proving that a judge can usually decide civil rights violations better than juries. Nonetheless, Barnett will have trouble paying his fines and will probably lose his ranch.

In 2006 he was ordered by court to pay a family of Hispanic Americans, citizens all, $100,000 because he detained them at gunpoint while they were deer hunting on public lands.

In that instance, Barnett was lucky, wasn’t he, in that the family of citizens was armed with high-powered rifles? They could have shot and killed him for acting and looking like an armed bandit.

In Los Angeles, shades of a Miranda, Mapp v. Ohio, the Constitution’s 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments! In Tucson, Roger Barnett’s luck ran out, again. Pay up Barnett or lose your ranch.

Contreras’ The Illegal Alien: A Dagger Into The Heart of America?? is available at amazon.com

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