Things That Matter

A Teacher Was Fired After They Told A Student That Trump Would Deport Him Because He Didn’t Wear A Belt To School

It’s no coincidence that ever since Donald Trump became the President of the United States, there has been a spike in hate crimes — both physical and verbal — and the numbers only continue to rise. It seems that every day, we keep uncovering stories of discrimination and racism toward communities of color. More specifically and more recently, Latinx communities have been at the center of these hate crimes. 

From viral videos of white people telling folks to “stop speaking Spanish” or telling folks “you don’t belong here,” to mass shootings — it seems as though our community cannot catch a break. 

In late August, it was reported that the parents of a 14-year-old Latinx student at Lancaster ISD’s Obama 9th Grade Center in Texas were furious after they found out a teacher had threatened their son with deportation.

According to the mother of the teen, this all happened over a dress code violation. The teen didn’t wear a belt to school and the school dress code states that belts are “required.” The mother also tells CBS 11 that the teacher was trying to teach her son a lesson for responding, “yeah,” instead of “yes sir.” 

The teacher then went as far as telling the student that “even though you are a citizen, Trump is working on a law where he can deport you, too, because of your mom’s status.” After telling the student this, the teacher showed her son a coin with the word, “ICE.”

The teen then texted his mother about the incident and his parents went to the school to address the teacher and administration themselves. 

This incident in Lancaster, Texas is only one more case of discrimination and racism against Latinos that we’ve seen in the news lately. 

According to a report by the Associated Press published after the mass shooting in El Paso, extremism experts believe that President Donald Trump’s use of language like “invasion of illegals” — words that were also echoed in the manifesto by the El Paso shooting gunman, is no accident. “They say historical data suggests a link between heated rhetoric from top political leaders and ensuing reports of hate crimes, only adding to the fears of those who could be targeted,” writes Michael Kunzelman and Astrid Galvan of AP. 

Statistics released by the FBI last year showed that hate crimes in the U.S. increased by 17% in 2017 compared to the previous year. This marked the third consecutive year of an increase in hate crimes. “There were 7,175 hate crime incidents in 2017, and of the crimes motivated by hatred over race or ethnicity, nearly half involved African-Americans and 11% were anti-Hispanic,” the AP reports.

It’s needless to say that we’re aware that these discriminations and hatred against black and brown communities have long been in place before men like Donald Trump have taken office. 

But, what data suggests here and what we keep yelling from the rooftops, is that while racism has existed long before this bigot has been in office — his administration has done nothing to dismantle that. In fact, all they’ve done is continue to feed the vicious cycle of racism and discrimination against communities of color. 

As a result of a racist president that has no respect for communities of color — in any way, shape, or form, other folks find it easier to say racist things and feel even more entitled to act on those thoughts without thinking of the consequences. 

In a statement from the district, Lancaster ISD said it did not support “nor tolerate behavior that promotes division.”

“Our district takes pride in being an inclusive district that puts students first regardless of their background. It is our goal to ensure a quality education for all students and a safe learning environment,” the statement continued.

However, it looks like “safe” is far from how the teen student feels. 

According to CBS 11, he refused to be identified for fear of retaliation against his family. His mother also told the publication, “you’re basically scaring him. Now, he thinks I’m going to get deported. Now, he thinks he might get deported.”

No student or young kid should feel this way especially inflicted by an adult that’s supposed to someone they trust. 

According to CBS 11, a school board meeting was organized in response to the incident in order to plan for a more effective way to handle future incidents like this. A spokesperson for the school district confirmed that the Lancaster ISD school employee accused of threatening the teen with deportation was no longer employed there.  According to Yahoo Lifestylethe mother of the teen boy said that two other families had also said the same teacher made other deportation threats. 

Immigration Advocates Are Sounding The Alarm Over Trump’s Decision To Collect DNA Samples From Asylum Seekers

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Immigration Advocates Are Sounding The Alarm Over Trump’s Decision To Collect DNA Samples From Asylum Seekers

Tom Pennington / Getty Images

In 2005, the DNA Fingerprint Act updated a former law‚ the DNA Identification Act of 1994, which denied authorities to obtain DNA from “arrestees who have not been charged in an indictment or information with a crime, and DNA samples that are voluntarily submitted solely for elimination purposes, from being included in the National DNA Index System.” In other words, the DNA Fingerprint Act was revised to protect the privacy rights of immigrantsIn 2010, the DNA Fingerprint Act was again revised because of then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who said government agencies didn’t have the resources back then to gather DNA from “migrants in custody who weren’t facing criminal charges or those pending deportation proceedings,” so another clause was put in place for them. Now, in another move in the attack on migrants, the Trump Administration wants to change that. 

The Trump Administration is continuing forward with its push to collect DNA samples from every migrant person that enters the U.S.

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

According to the New York Times, “a homeland security official said in a call with reporters on Wednesday that the exemption [put in place in 2010] was outdated, and that it was time to eliminate it.” That statement means the government now has resources to sort through and gather DNA, which it didn’t have in 2010. But that assumption is a stark contradiction since border agents, and immigration officials are severely understaffed

Immigration advocates are calling foul on this tactic by the Trump Administration who continues to criminalize migrants who are seeking asylum. Once their DNA is in the system, they will forever be recorded as felons.

Credit: @jherrerx / Twitter

“That kind of mass collection alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation basically to population surveillance, which is basically contrary to our basic notions of a free, trusting, autonomous society,” Vera Eidelman, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told The New York Times

The government began collecting DNA from migrants starting this summer.

Credit: @CREWcrew / Twitter

At some point, this summer border agents began collecting DNA from migrants in order to verify whether or not they were related to the people they were traveling with. Agents were trying to prove whether family units entering the country together were actually related or traveling under false information. The DNA they gathered at the point was just to show family DNA. 

“This was really an investigative tool in attacking the fraudulent family phenomenon,” an ICE official said to CNN about the operation that began this summer. “We’re interested in using this as a tactical law enforcement tool, one of many, to be deployed when looking at a potential fraudulent family scenario.”

This new type of DNA that the administration is aiming to get would provide more extensive information and also would not be shared with other law enforcement agencies.

Credit: @YouGovUS / Twitter

The problem here lies with privacy concerns. For example, if an immigration official gathers DNA information from a migrant who entered the country illegally only to be given asylum later — because the court process takes a very long time — that person, who has the option of becoming a U.S. citizen at some point now has a criminal stain on their record for the rest of their life. 

Writer Kelly Hayes wrote an extensive Twitter thread that exposes the extensive damage and intrusion this form of DNA gathering will have for years to come. 

Credit: @kejames / Twitter

“A DNA registry for migrants,” Hayes tweeted. “Imagine the ugly possibilities of having a marginalized group of people that large cataloged according to their DNA, and that catalog being in the hands of the state. I know folks are focused on Ukraine, but this is a whole thing. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people, including children. With evolving technologies, the potential surveillance applications of a massive DNA registry are ominous AF.”

It’s unclear when this DNA collection will officially begin, even though the New York Times reports that Homeland Security officials have already said they have the right to get DNA from migrants. However, the Supreme Court has already ruled undocumented people have rights just as U.S. citizens do. 

“Though the Supreme Court has found that the constitutional right to privacy applies to everyone within the United States, regardless of their immigration status, a more restrictive interpretation of the Fourth Amendment has been applied within a 100-mile zone of the border, where suspicionless searches are allowed, even of American citizens,” the Times reports. And yet we already know some attorneys are trying to fight that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to undocumented people

READ: A City Claims A Family Can’t Sue Over A Wrongful Death Because Undocumented People Don’t Have Rights Under Constitution

Update: Bodycam Footage Of Texas Police Officers Leading A Black Man By A Rope Reveals They Knew It Would ‘Look Bad’

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Update: Bodycam Footage Of Texas Police Officers Leading A Black Man By A Rope Reveals They Knew It Would ‘Look Bad’

Two Gavelston, Texas police officers arrested 43-year-old Donald Neely on criminal trespassing 50 miles south-east of Houston. The officers are both white, while Neely is black, thus, a photograph of the two officers on horseback escorting Neely whose hands were tied with a rope, sparked public outrage. Civil Rights advocacy groups felt the picture echoed imagery from the Jim Crow era or Antebellum south. 

While the Gavelston police were quick to apologize and change their policies, protestors demanded the officers’ release their bodycam footage of the incident, which took place last August. 

Officers arrest Donald Neely on horseback.

In the absence of a police vehicle, two white officers led Neely by rope as they rode on horseback through the streets of Gavelston. Reports describe Neely as homeless and mentally ill after he was arrested for trespassing. When a photo of the incident began to circulate online, there was a national outcry with many believing it was needlessly degrading. 

The police department admitted the officers demonstrated “poor judgment” and would not arrest someone using this method again. 

Galveston’s police chief, Vernon Hale apologized calling the rope an, “unnecessary embarrassment.”

“We have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods,” Hale said. “We understand the negative perception of this action and believe it is most appropriate to cease the use of this technique.”

Donald Neely’s family reacts on Facebook. 

Imagine that you have a relative who is homeless and mentally ill… Imagine that YOU are aware that living on the…

Posted by Christin Neely on Monday, August 5, 2019

Donald Neely’s sister Christin Neely took to Facebook after the photos when viral. She shared her family’s story. Donald is mentally ill and became transient because of it. His family is still remarkably supportive and regularly searches for him when he goes missing. Fully aware that his unfortunate circumstances make him a target of law enforcement, it was no less traumatizing to discover how her brother had been arrested by seeing the viral photos.

“Imagine that you have a relative who is homeless and mentally ill… Imagine searching the streets of a city for days looking for your loved one, to no avail,” Christin wrote. “Just imagine for one second being one of his children who have been fatherless for years and your father isn’t incarcerated or dead. With all of that in mind, now imagine scrolling fb and seeing said loved one being escorted to jail on foot by 2 officers on horses, hands cuffed behind his back with a rope attached. In 2019???? He was treated like an animal paraded through the streets.”

After Christin’s post and viral outrage ensued, Hale issued an apology to Donald

“First and foremost I must apologize to Mr. Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment. Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of arrest,” Hale said. 

Civil Rights groups and protestors demand more action. 

Civil Rights advocacy groups were not completely satisfied with the way the arrest was handled, even if they did appreciate the police’s quick apology. However, no disciplinary action was taken with the two officers. 

“If it was a white man, he wouldn’t have been treated that way,” Leon Phillips, president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, told the New York Times. “I guarantee there’s nothing in their rules that you can put a leash on a guy while you ride down the street on a horse.”

Phillips said that he grew up during segregation and the image made him emotional because during that time “people said and did whatever they wanted to,” to black folk. For Phillips, this incident was all too similar to many he had witnessed before. 

“This is 2019 and not 1819,” James Douglas, the president of Houston’s NAACP, told the Houston Chronicle. “I am happy to know that Chief Vernon [Hale] issued an apology and indicated that the act showed poor judgment, but it also shows poor training. Even though the chief indicated that the technique would be discontinued he failed to address the lack of respect demonstrated by the officers in the episode.”

Protestors get Gavelston police to release bodycam footage.

Protestors and advocates successfully got the Gavelston police to release bodycam footage of the incident. The two officers, Amanda Smith and Patrick Brosch each made their footage public. 

In the video, Brosch asks Smith if she should go get her truck, but Smith feared their sergeant did not want the officers to separate. 

“This is gonna look really bad,” Brosch says laughing, as they start escorting Donald Neely with the rope. “This is gonna look so bad. I’m glad you’re not embarrassed, Mr. Neely.” 

Police Chief Hale says that the report and footage will be used to determine if further action must be taken.