Things That Matter

A 19-Year-Old Maid Was Convicted Of Stealing Jewelry, But The Jury Felt So Bad They Paid Her Fine

Sandra Mendez Ortega, an undocumented 19-year-old single mother with a baby on the way, works as a maid – a tough job that affords little pay and is mostly held by women of color. According to The Washington Post, she cleaned houses for just $60 a day.

While cleaning the home of Lisa Copeland, Mendez Ortega stole three rings worth $5,000, reports The Washington Post. Police investigated the theft and questioned three women that all cleaned the home of Copeland family. Though all three initially denied the the theft, eventually Mendez Ortega confessed, which led to her arrest.

Mendez Ortega, who claims she didn’t know how much the rings were worth, spent eight days in jail and was released on $1,000 bond. Police made Mendez Ortega write an apology letter to Copeland. She wrote in Spanish: “Sorry for grabbing the rings. I don’t know what happened. I want you to forgive me.”

credit: PressFrom

During her trial, which ended last week, the jury was moved by Mendez Ortega’s story. She dropped out of school after sixth grade, was pregnant at 15 and again at 19, and did not have a job. Copeland called it a “sob story” and was angry to not only hear the jury and others feel compassion for Mendez Ortega, but that they’d give her such a small sentence for her crime.

Mendez Ortega’s punishment was a day’s pay — a $60 fine. According to the Washington Post, the jury felt terrible for convicting the single mother, and they felt even worse for making her pay that fine, so they did something extraordinary. They took up a collection to pay her fine.

The general sentiment was she was a victim, too,” said jury foreman Jeffery Memmott to The Washington Post. “Two of the women [jurors] were crying because of how bad they felt. One lady pulled out a $20 bill, and just about everybody chipped in.”

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The juror then went to her home and gave her the entire collection of $80.

Copeland was not happy to hear about the jury’s giving nature.

“The punishment was she didn’t get paid for the day she stole from us,” Copeland told The Washington Post. “But then she did get paid for it. That’s changed my whole view of it.”

“She made $20 out of it, too,” she added.

So what did Mendez Ortega say when she was informed that the jury wanted to pay her fine?

“I became happy when I heard they wanted to give me that [money],” she said. “Thank you very much to all of them. God bless them.”

H/T: First the jury convicted this 19-year-old maid for stealing. Then they took up a collection to pay her fine.

READ: Latino Man Wins $20,000 Settlement After He Was Wrongfully Detained By ICE

Fear And Anxiety Grip Undocumented Community Nationwide As Walmart Arrests Escalate

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Fear And Anxiety Grip Undocumented Community Nationwide As Walmart Arrests Escalate

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As our country protests what is happening on the southern border–children in cages without enough food, water or even a bed to sleep on, separated from their family–fear of ICE reaches nationwide. In a Vermont town, undocumented immigrants and allies rallied outside Burlington Church on July 2nd, demanding an end to those very child internment camps. While showing solidarity for migrants at the border, they took the opportunity to speak up for the undocumented members of their community recently arrested while shopping at Walmart.

Three Vermont dairy workers were arrested within a single month. All arrests were made while grocery shopping at Walmart.

Undocumented organizer, Zully Palacios carried a sign with all three of their faces.

Credit: @farmworkerjustice / Twitter

Palacios herself is risking her status by speaking out, and still, she is a spokesperson for Migrant Justice. She told Vermont’s Seven Days, “As we read about what’s happening on the southern border, we must not forget what’s happening here, on the northern border.”

Federal data proves that ICE arrests have escalated under Trump’s administration.

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“These three members of our community were going about their lives, fulfilling their daily needs, shopping for food, sending money to their families in Mexico,” she told the outlet. “For that, they were detained and now find themselves behind bars.”

Ismael Mendez-Lopez, Mario Diaz-Aguilar, and Ubertoni Aguilar-Montero were stopped in the parking lot.

Credit: @TheBaxterBean / Twitter

The three went to Walmart both to buy groceries and to wire money to their families back in Mexico. Before they did that, a U.S. Border Patrol agent in an unmarked car stopped them in the parking lot. They spoke briefly and went on their way. The agent followed them. After they finished shopping at Walmart, they were arrested for not having paperwork on them. 

They’re currently being held in a New Hampshire county jail pending ICE deportation proceedings.

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A spokesperson for Border Patrol confirmed that they were arrested “based on the information from a concerned citizen.” This was the same reason for seven undocumented farmworker arrests outside that same Walmart Supercenter since February 2018. Matt Cameron, an immigration attorney, believes that these “concerned citizens” are actually informants.

Migrant workers in Vermont are struggling to feed themselves for fear of arrest.

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A newly published research study shows that each ICE raid or arrest creates an environment of fear that tangibly affects the rest of the roughly 1,500 migrant farmworkers in Vermont. They’re afraid that every trip to go get groceries might be one they never come home from.

All it takes is one racist shopper calling ICE because they saw a brown person.

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Just like how all it took was one customer complaint to report to Dunkin’ Donuts that they suspect undocumented workers. Now, Dunkin’ is suing its own franchise owners in a massive company crackdown on hiring undocumented workers.

Trump has confirmed that ICE raids will result in thousands of arrests Sunday.

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Roberto Suro, a public policy professor at the University of Southern California suspects that, while Sunday will deport .2 percent of those with deportation orders, the true attack is “purely psychological.” He told the Los Angeles Times, “This is yet one more example of how the Trump administration is trying to use fear as an instrument of immigration control. It generates a lot of fear and anxiety but not a lot of control. This has nothing to do with actual enforcement.”

The ICE raids are designed to cause fear for immigrants and to appease Trump’s right-wing base.

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After news surfaced that a raid was on its way, Trump revealed to reporters on Friday that it would be a “major operation.” “One audience is supposed to feel like something is happening,” Suro said, “and the other is supposed to be scared to death.”

Since then, immigrants across the country have called out of work, further destabilizing the community.

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Activist tip hotlines have received an influx of calls, and an advocacy group in New York has already submitted a preemptive lawsuit. The more fear he creates, the more satisfied his base will be after his failure to deliver “The Wall.”

READ: If ICE Raids Dairy Farms, It Could Make Your Gallon Of Milk $8

The Trump Administration Is Targeting Thousands Of People This Sunday In Immigration Raids

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The Trump Administration Is Targeting Thousands Of People This Sunday In Immigration Raids

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Since mid-June, President Donald Trump has threatened that mass raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would be taking place nationwide. He said the raids would take place in 10 major cities, which included Miami, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Chicago.  He delayed those raids for two weeks and said that if the Democrats couldn’t fix the asylum laws that he would go forward. After the initial threat, people on social media were on high alert using the hashtags #ProtectOurCommunities, #ProtectMyNeighbor, and #AbolishICE. It looks like people will have to rev up those hashtags again because Trump has issued a new threat against undocumented immigrants.

ICE raids against undocumented people are supposed to take place starting this Sunday.

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A New York Times report states that “two current and one former homeland security officials” said raids would be happening on Sunday and that the immigration officials already had the deportation orders for 2,000 immigrants. It’s unclear what cities ICE would target, but the article stated that ten significant cities would be on their list, which indicates that aside from Miami, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago, other cities including Houston, San Francisco, and New York could also be included. Most of those cities are Sanctuary Cities, which intends to protect undocumented people.

Furthermore, undocumented immigrants that are “on the scene” while others are being detained will also get detained even if there isn’t an order for their deportation.

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The article goes on to say that ICE will go to great length to arrest as many people as they can by detaining others who happened to be around while people are being detained, that includes children. They also report that when families get arrested as a unit, they may get taken to a hotel because of crowding issues at detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. They will be held in a hotel room until their travel arrangements are made to either go a detention center or possibly be deported to their native country.

While the report does not include confirmation from ICE officials, CNN reports that acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli said the raids are indeed happening.

“They’re absolutely going to happen,” he said during a press conference. There are approximately a million people in this country with removal orders. And of course that isn’t what ICE will go after in this, but that’s the pool of people who have been all the way through the due process chain.”

There’s one city that won’t be a target, and that’s New Orleans because the state is under a state of emergency due to tropical storm Barry.

“The City of NOLA has confirmed with ICE in NOLA that immigration enforcement will be temporarily suspended through the weekend in the Barry impacted areas of Louisiana & Mississippi,” the city tweeted. “Make all storm preparations to stay safe regardless of your immigration status.”

People on social media, including several politicians, are once again campaigning efforts to help undocumented immigrants stay safe during this terrifying time of uncertainty.

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United We Dream ‏ tweeted, “Together, we can fight back against #ICEraids, white supremacy, and scare tactics from a monstrous government. We have tools. We have power. We have community. Please share these resources widely.”

Local police in some of these cities also informed the public, via social media that they would not be assisting ICE in giving them any kind of information. The New York Police Department said that they don’t “ask about the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses, or other people who ask for help.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also assured undocumented people that if ICE “comes knocking, you do NOT have to open your door unless there is a signed judicial warrant.”

Trump has not commented on the raids that are scheduled to begin Sunday.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has provided a handy sheet for undocumented immigrants in the case that ICE comes to their home.

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  • You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, immigration agents, or other officials. Anything you tell an officer can later be used against you in immigration court.
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you.
  • If an immigration agent asks if they can search you, you have the right to say no. Agents do not have the right to search you or your belongings without your consent or probable cause.
  • If you’re over 18, carry your papers with you at all times. If you don’t have them, tell the officer that you want to remain silent, or that you want to consult a lawyer before answering any questions.

For more information about your rights, click here.

READ: ICE Raids Ordered To Begin On Sunday In Major Cities

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