Things That Matter

The Border Patrol Did Everything Possible To Protect An Agent Who Killed An Innocent Mexican Kid

Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was 16-years-old when he was killed by Border Patrol agent Lonnie Ray Swartz on Oct. 10, 2012. Rodriguez wasn’t committing a crime when Swartz unloaded his weapon. He wasn’t even in the United States when it happened.

The latest edition of the New York Time Magazine features a shocking profile on Rodriguez’s tragic death and how his murder is very representative of how messed up the Border Patrol truly is. The night Rodriguez was killed, two smugglers were trying to jump the fence back to Mexico after dropping off their cargo somewhere in Nogales, Ariz. Agents of the Nogales Police Department and the local Border Patrol station were standing around watching these two men escape when Lonnie Ray Swartz pulled up to the fence, got out of his car, and fired at Rodriguez at least 15 times through the fence. According to the autopsy report, Rodriguez was hit by 10 bullets. He was shot in the back. Swartz reported that Rodriguez was throwing rocks at him from Mexico. The investigation dismissed this claim.

Despite the very damning evidence that Swartz straight up murdered Rodriguez for no apparent reason, nothing happened to him. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, the agency in charge of these types of investigations, did nothing.

It wasn’t until Raner Collins — Chief U.S. District Judge of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Arizona — ordered that Lonnie Ray Swartz’s identity be revealed that any charges against the agent were brought. On Sept. 24, 2015, nearly three years after Rodriguez’s death, Swartz was charged with second-degree murder.

This was the first time ever that a Border Patrol Agent was charged for killing a Mexican citizen on the other side of the fence. If anything, Rodriguez’s murder shone a light on just how far the Border Patrol goes to protect their own. You can read more about this tragic incident and how screwed up the Border Patrol really is here. And for good measure, you should also read the Texas Observer’s shocking expose of the agency’s corruption.

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In Total Telenovela Style, Spain’s Former King Is Forced Into Exile But Don’t Feel Too Bad For Him

Things That Matter

In Total Telenovela Style, Spain’s Former King Is Forced Into Exile But Don’t Feel Too Bad For Him

Daniel Perez / Getty Images

In news that totally seems to be made for TV, the former king of Spain – Juan Carlos – has been forced to flee the country and to live in exile as allegations of corruption emerge.

Juan Carlos had been a very popular and well-liked king until he was forced to abdicate in 2014. He had been on an elephant hunting trip in Botswana as Spain grappled with the very worst of the Great Recession and unemployment hit 24%.

Since his abdication, allegations of corruption and money laundering have chased him and harmed the Spanish monarchy, including his son, Felipe, who is the current reigning king.

Spain is reeling after their former king, Juan Carlos, has fled the country to live in exile abroad.

For a royal scandal with a dash of shock and awe, this week we look to Spain, where its former king has fled the country under a cloud of corruption allegations. This is the same former king who was accused of having a thing for Princess Diana.

Juan Carlos, who ruled for 39 years from 1975 to 2014, has fled the country following a series of allegations he pocketed tens of millions of dollars from a Saudi Arabian deal in an offshore Swiss bank account. He dropped the news to son and current rule King Felipe via a letter published this week.

The former king had become plagued with scandal after scandal and it was beginning to impact his son Felipe, the current reigning king.

Credit: Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images

Although he had several small scale scandals during his reign, Juan Carlos appeared set to go down in history as the leader who helped guide Spain from a deadly dictatorship to a healthy democracy after the death of Gen. Franco in 1975.

However, once his. 2014 abdication of the throne, new allegations of corruption and shady financial deals have followed him. As a result, the former king’s son – King Felipe – has led a very austere personal life in a country where the monarchy does not enjoy high levels of support. 

Many experts say that the whole situation has cast a shadow on the future of Spain’s monarchy. The emergence of shocking allegations of corruption and money laundering against former Spanish King Juan Carlos have cast doubt over the very future of the monarchy, under his son King Felipe

Meanwhile, officials actually have no idea where the former king is currently at.

Credit: Daniel Perez / Getty Images

Since the former king first published his letter detailing his plan to live in exile, outside of Spain, there has been intense speculation about where he would go. Turns out: we still don’t know for sure.

His letter gave no details about his destination but many media outlets reported he would be going to the Caribbean – perhaps the Dominican Republic. However, officials there said they had no information that he was coming. 

A spokeswoman for the Caribbean nation’s immigration service said he had not entered the country, despite reports that he had arrived on Tuesday. But she said he had been there for a few days from late February to early March.

Media in Portugal have reported that he is in a Portuguese resort town, but few outlets have actually been able to confirm these reports.

So with all this drama what could happen to the former king next?

As a royal, Juan Carlos still enjoys some level of immunity from prosecution. However, in Switzerland, which is investigating alleged money laundering, the former king has no immunity, regardless of the date of any possible crimes. So it’s possible that Swiss prosecutors could attempt to bring charges against him.

Regarding the Spanish Supreme Court inquiry, most experts believe the former king will avoid charges as most of the possible crimes took place before his abdication.

Spain’s Congress too has so far voted against a minority of left-wing and regional parties that wish to hold an investigative commission into the origin of Juan Carlos’s offshore fortune.

But what of King Felipe’s future in a country that polls suggest is split fairly evenly down the middle on remaining a monarchy? Some argue that Felipe needs to take greater steps towards a clean break with the past. The Prime Minister has admitted that he is in favor of reforming the constitutional concept of absolute immunity for Spain’s head of state. 

While a prominent supporter of Spain’s monarchy, José Antonio Zarzalejos, told the BBC that King Felipe should take further steps to secure his future on the throne, including the “physical removal” of Juan Carlos from Zarzuela palace.

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She Gave Birth While Still Wearing Her Jeans Because Border Patrol Agents Ignored Her Pleas For Help

Things That Matter

She Gave Birth While Still Wearing Her Jeans Because Border Patrol Agents Ignored Her Pleas For Help

Sherry Munoz / Getty

Unfortunately, there have been no shortage of stories detailing the cruelty experienced by migrants at the hands of Border Patrol officers. But this one in particular has struck a chord with people.

In February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that it had safely helped an asylum-seeker give birth while in custody. But the woman herself has now come forward and thrown that narrative into doubt.

Border Patrol agents in California are now under investigation for alleged abusive treatment of a pregnant woman in their custody.

The complaint filed Wednesday details how a Guatemalan woman gave birth at the Chula Vista Border Patrol station near San Diego, standing up, holding onto a trash can while still wearing her pants. She had pleaded with Border Patrol agents for help, but they reportedly told her to sit down and wait to be processed.

She had been detained with her husband and two young daughters in February as they hoped to apply for asylum in the U.S.

The mother, who delivered her baby while still wearing her pants, asked agents for help repeatedly and mentioned she was in pain.

They were in the midst of being processed by agents when after about 30 minutes, her husband could hear the baby crying through the fabric of her pants.

According to the complaint, which was filed by the ACLU and Jewish Family Service of San Diego, the woman, whom lawyers call Anna, gave birth while wearing her pants, and holding onto a garbage can, even after she complained of womb pain on the trip to the Border Patrol station. 

The complaint states that her husband, who was arrested along with their two other children while crossing the border, helped pull down her pants to reveal his partially-born daughter. The baby was then birthed in the cell, in full sight of other detainees and Border Patrol employees.

The woman and her newborn were later taken to Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center where they were discharged and returned to the station for the night, during which the newborn was not given a sufficient blanket, the complaint claims, adding that Ana was only allowed to shower when she was released to the Jewish Family Service Migrant Family Shelter three days after giving birth.

Yup – Border Patrol agents let a woman endure a painful labor and risked the life of a baby by ignoring her request for help.

Later, at a family shelter run by Jewish Family Service of San Diego, the new mother was interviewed about her alleged mistreatment. After hearing her story, the shelter contacted the American Civil Liberties Union and together, both agencies filed the complaint on the mother’s behalf.

The family is now safe and healthy and reunited with family members in another part of the US, Kate Clark, senior director of immigration services at Jewish Family Service of San Diego, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.

Originally, the Border Patrol had released a statement praising their officers for helping a woman deliver a baby – that now looks like it wasn’t entirely true.

The Border Patrol, in a statement published Feb. 19, said the woman “did not appear to be in distress and did not request any medical attention” when she was first apprehended. It went on to say that staff “prepared an area for the mother to give birth” at the Chula Vista station.

Alongside the complaint filed by the ACLU, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal is writing a letter to Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari also demanding an investigation.

The letter is signed by 12 other members of Congress, including Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar, and it seconds the ACLU’s demand for an investigation into the woman’s specific incident, as well as several similar instances of the mistreatment of pregnant people in immigration custody, and an overhaul of DHS policies on the detainment of pregnant people.

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