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He Intentionally Drove His Truck Into A Migrant And Now This Border Patrol Agent Gets Off With Simple Probation

Matthew Bowen, a border patrol agent who frequently went on racist tirades and who plead guilty to purposefully driving his car into a migrant in Arizona, was sentenced to three years probation. In a court filing, Bowen admitted to intentionally striking into 23-year-old Antolin Lopez-Aguilar, a Guatemalan man who Bowen believed jumped the border fence. 

After a years-long investigation, text messages were uncovered that showed him lamenting his inability to use harsher tactics because the laws prevented him from doing so. Some feel as though three months of probation is just a slap on a wrist for the violent act. 

The judge had harsh words for Bowen but a light sentence.

“I want you to remember this,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Ferraro told Bowen during the federal sentencing hearing. “I can’t ignore the seriousness of this offense. Nationally, people are complaining about ICE and Border Patrol and the job that they do. Your conduct reinforces their stereotypes and makes it much more difficult for your colleagues to perform their duties. It only takes one incident like this to really undermine things.” 

On December 3, 2017, Bowen hit Lopez-Aguilar with his Border Patrol Truck as a way to stop him from crossing the southern border illegally after a camera operator spotted him possibly jumping a fence near Nogales, Arizona.

While Lopez-Aguilar was not able to attend to the hearing, prosecutors say he believed he was going to die during the attack. Moreover, he was unable to receive treatment for the various injuries to his hands, knees, and back and still experiences ongoing pay. 

Bowen admitted to the incident dismissing it as poor judgment as opposed to a vendetta against immigrants which court documents and prosecutors suggest. 

“I made a mistake in judgment by choosing to bump him with my vehicle. I’m thankful he was not seriously injured, and I would like to apologize to the victim sincerely and also to the court,” Bowen said in court. 

Prosecutors said Bowen “accelerated aggressively,” and hit Lopez-Aguilar twice, almost running him over the second time. After the incident, Lopez-Aguilar was charged with unlawful entry into the U.S. and sent to Tuscan by prisoner transport, according to the Washington Post. Prosecutors accused Bowen of filing a false report about the incident on the same day. 

“Chasing a guat with an f150 and accidentally bumped him at like 7 mph,” he wrote in a text the next day. “Just a little push with a ford bumper.” 

Border Patrol agents drive government-issued Ford F-150 trucks. 

The trial reveals documents showing Bowen referring to immigrants as “savages.” 

Prosecutors discovered text messages prior to the attack where Bowen referred to migrants as “subhumans,” “mindless murdering savages,” and said he was upset the laws didn’t allow him to do his job which was “hunting down sh-t-bags with your crew.” 

In another text message, he said agents were treated unfairly and “prosecuted for doing what it takes to arrest these savages.” In another message, Bowen said, “Guys are being made to think any use of force results in you being investigated and so they are letting tonks get away with too much.” 

Bowen’s lawyer Sean Chapman argued that his text messages weren’t racist but rather taken out of context because allegedly there exists a context where calling immigrants savages, subhumans, and tonks is not racist. 

“There have been claims in the media that Mr. Bowen made racist comments about the immigrant community, and it’s simply not true,” Chapman said.

In another series of texts, Bowen called immigrants unworthy of being fire kindling. 

“PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!” Bowen said in a text. “Disgusting subhuman sh-t unworthy of being kindling for a fire.”

Bowen pleads guilty to striking Lopez-Aguilar intentionally. 

“In the court filing, Bowen admits he ‘intentionally struck [the migrant] with an unreasonable amount of force’ and said his actions ‘were not justified and violated [the migrant’s] rights protected by the Constitution of the United States’,” according to the Washington Post

Bowen pled guilty to the crime in August and resigned from the agency. Chapman said his client deserved a lighter sentence because Lopez-Aguilar was barely injured, according to court filings. However, Judge Ferraro denied the request for a mere six months probation believing three years would suffice.

“I’m not going to take the easy way out,” Ferrero said to Bowen. “You need to have a sense of consequence — for the next three years, you’re going to have the same sense of stress that you had coming into this today.”

He will also have to pay $8,000 in restitution fees that will cover Lopez-Aguilar’s medical expenses and have to complete 150 hours of community service. 

This Guatemalan Mom Was Separated From Her Son At The Border After Enduring A Gunshot To The Face

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This Guatemalan Mom Was Separated From Her Son At The Border After Enduring A Gunshot To The Face

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In an exclusive interview with People Magazine, a 32-year-old Guatemalan woman recounts her experience fleeing her home country in August 2017 after being shot in the face at a demonstration. Not only does the woman—who goes by the false name Daniella—describe the event that catalyzed her desire to leave Guatemala, but she tells of the many months spent traveling north, and the many months spent in a detention center after reaching the border, separated from her young son.

On August 9, 2017, Daniella and her son, Carlos, were leaving their family’s house when they encountered a large protest against a new measure that would require people to pay for water. At first the protest was peaceful—but then bullets started flying through the air. Daniella and Carlos were just passing through, but a bullet had caught Daniella in two parts of her body: the left arm, and right below the eye.

“I threw my arm around Carlos to protect him—he was covered in blood, and I started to panic,” she told People. “Little did I know that the one bleeding was me.”

Because of rampant corruption in that part of Guatemala, Daniella knew that the police wouldn’t come—they were told not to interfere. So vigilant were certain members of the demonstration that Daniella’s father received a threatening call before she even made it to a hospital. The caller told her father that if they filed a report, he would kill the whole family. Later she learned that the man who had shot her lived just three blocks away from her mother. Fortunately, when she made it to the hospital, her husband—who had moved the the U.S. five years earlier to find work, sent money for the expenses.

After more than a week in the hospital, both bullets remain in Daniella’s body to this day.

“The doctor said that if they were taken out, I could be left in a vegetative state, or I could die,” she said. “To this day I still feel pain.”

After this harrowing experience, Daniella decided that it was time to follow in her husband’s footsteps and flee to the U.S. She knew that the journey would be anything but easy, but she could have never guessed how nightmarish a month lay ahead. Traveling by truck and by bus, there were many nights spent on the side of the road. When they finally made it to the Arizona border, they were not dropped off at an immigration center, as she had expected. Instead, she and Carlos were told to climb a tree, then jump from the tree to the border wall. From there, they could reach the other side.

“I told Carlos, ‘Mijo, you have to jump.’ He was so afraid that he wouldn’t move,” she said. “I looked into my son’s eyes, and I said, ‘Son, please trust me. Everything’s going to be all right.’

After they had both made it safely to the other side, they took just a few steps before the Border Patrol arrived. They were taken into custody and dropped off at “La Hielera”—The Icebox. There, Daniella was forced to sign papers she didn’t understand, and the officer who was present told her that the children would be taken to a shelter, then given up for adoption. Naturally, all the mothers were desperately frightened by this news.

Before leaving for court that same day, Daniella said goodbye to Carlos, unsure if they would ever see each other again. She told People Magazine that she held her son and said: “You’re a champion, Papa, and you’re always going to be in my heart.”

The mothers were not immediately told the whereabouts of their children. But five months after being moved to Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, Daniella learned that Carlos was in a New Jersey foster home.

A few months later, Daniella had her official court hearing. Her bail was posted at $30,000, and after filing an appeal to extend the bail deadline, Daniella was released from custody. She had been detained for 11 months.

The organization Immigrant Families Together had gathered the money for Daniella’s bail, and they helped her get back on her feet by providing her with food and clean clothes. They also took her to the airport to fly to Virginia, where Carlos had relocated to live with his uncle, her brother.

Daniella’s story isn’t unique—roughly 30,000 people are detained in the U.S. on a given day, and these numbers have seen major upticks throughout 2019. What makes Daniella’s story remarkable is her reunion with Carlos. Many families who have been separated at the border are not nearly as lucky.

While she and Carlos continue to deal with the psychological trauma of this experience, Daniella is grateful and focused on the future.

“Without the assistance from all the people that helped me, I wouldn’t be free,” said Daniella. “Now my only focus is my family, my son, starting a new life here in California . . . I don’t have to worry about being shot again or putting my son’s life in danger.”

Graphic New Video Of Migrant Teen’s Death Raises Questions About ICE Policies

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Graphic New Video Of Migrant Teen’s Death Raises Questions About ICE Policies

Family of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez

When 16-year-old Guatemalan Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died six days after arriving at South Texas processing center, Customs and Border Protection released their version of events. Now, an uncovered ProPublica video reveals a different version. 

When Carlos died in May, acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner John Sanders said an agent found Carlos “unresponsive” after checking on him. However, ProPublica acquired a video of Carlos’ last hours that dispute he was provided with adequate healthcare. 

Carlos is the sixth migrant under 18 years old to die in federal custody under the Trump administration, according to the New York Times. Here’s what really happened.

Hours before he died, Carlos had a fever of 103 degrees, according to records.

The day before he died, a nurse instructed authorities to check on the 16-year-old in a couple of hours and said he should be taken to the emergency room if his sickness worsened. They did not follow the orders. Carlos was diagnosed with the flu, fearing he would contaminate other migrants agents moved into a quarantine cell. The next morning another sick boy in the cell found him dead.

The video shows that Carlos was visibly incredibly ill. It shows that the only way you couldn’t have noticed this teenage boy needed urgent care was if you were willfully ignoring him.

“The cellblock video shows Carlos writhing for at least 25 minutes on the floor and a concrete bench. It shows him staggering to the toilet and collapsing on the floor, where he remained in the same position for the next four and a half hours,” according to ProPublica. 

ProPublica referred to a Border Patrol “subject activity log” where it said an agent checked on him three times on the morning of his death but reported nothing out of the ordinary. The article suggests that “agent charged with monitoring him failed to perform adequate checks, if he even checked at all.” 

ProPublica believes the video disputes CBP’s account of Carlos’ death. 

The security video shows that it was Carlos’ cellmate who discovered his body, not any agents doing a welfare check, as CBP alleged in their press release. The video shows no welfare checks taking place at all. However, ProPublica discovered a four-hour gap of missing footage that coincides with the times an agent reported doing the welfare checks. CBP would not comment. A coroner heard secondhand that an agent may have checked by looking through the cell window. 

“On the video, the cellmate can be seen waking up and groggily walking to the toilet, where Carlos was lying in a pool of blood on the floor. He gestures for help at the cell door. Only then do agents enter the cell and discover that Carlos had died during the night,” ProPublica described. 

When ProPublica reporters asked Department of Homeland Security if cell footage of Carlos’ final hours were shown on the live video monitors, they would not comment. 

“While we cannot discuss specific information or details of this investigation, we can tell you that the Department of Homeland Security and this agency are looking into all aspects of this case to ensure all procedures were followed,” CBP spokesperson Matt Leas said.

Medical experts condemn the circumstances of the teenager’s death. 

“Why is a teenaged boy in a jail facility at all if he is sick with a transmissible illness? Why isn’t he at a hospital or at a home or clinic where he can get a warm bed, fluids, supervised attention and medical care? He is not a criminal,” said Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist that reviewed Carlos’ death records

The New York Times notes the tens of millions of dollars have been funneled into migrant healthcare, with medical practitioners near the southwestern border increasing over tenfold. However, an examination by the paper found that most Border Patrol facilities in the area are insufficient in their ability to asses migrant health, despite years of internal warnings on the matter. 

“Flu can progress rapidly, but it’s not like a heart attack. Even when fast, it worsens over a period of hours. There should have been signs that indicated he needed to go to the hospital,” Dr. Joshya Sharfstein, who works at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.

Former commissioner Sanders has since resigned and expressed remorse over the situation blaming the largely Democratic Congress for being “unresponsive” — not necessarily the Trump administration for the problem, according to ProPublica

“I really think the American government failed these people. The government failed people like Carlos,” he said. “I was part of that system at a very high level, and Carlos’ death will follow me for the rest of my life.”

Carlos’ death was not entirely in vain. The loss of his life prompted new regulations for Border Patrol agents which require they physically enter the cells of sick detainees, conduct regular welfare checks, and take their temperatures.