Things That Matter

Corruption Among Border Patrol Agents Highlighted In This Tense Documentary

THE ATLANTIC / YOUTUBE

The drug trade is big business in Mexico, and as a result, many individuals are attracted to the prospect of making big money by making deals with the cartels. In the U.S., it is not uncommon for cartels to pay off border patrol agents, so they can have access to valuable intel or to get a free pass at the border. And while border patrol agents can make some extra cash by turning a blind eye to cartel dealings, they’re not above retaliation, or worse, if something goes wrong. As this short documentary from The Atlantic shows, the relationship between the cartels and border patrol agents can tear apart communities, as well as families. The damage caused by this corruption is likely to get worse.

As demand for border patrol agents increases, the level of corruption is expected to increase as well.

THE ATLANTIC / YOUTUBE

Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna and his brother, Eduardo Luna, a sicario (assassin) for the “Gulf Cartel,” were arrested in connection with the murder of Francisco “Frankie” Palacios Paz, whose body was found floating in the waters of South Padre Island, Texas. The Atlantic reports that only around one percent of agents are likely compromised by cartels, the way Joel Luna was, but that one percent can cause billions of dollars in damage.

In January, President Trump signed an executive order asking for an additional 5,500 agents, and experts are concerned that this demand could lead to a relaxation in the hiring process, allowing less desirable, and potentially easier to bribe, people to fill those positions. The damage caused by agent Joel Luna could pale in comparison to what might come next.

Be sure to check out The Atlantic’s full piece, covering this and so much more, on just how much damage is caused by this kind of corruption.

[H/T] Remezcla: This Explosive Short Doc Exposes How Trump’s Expansion of Border Patrol Could Be Disastrous

READ: Thousands Of Non-Criminal Immigrants Have Been Arrested By ICE, Data Reveals

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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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This Mother Was Allowed Into The US With Her Daughters But Her Partner And Son Were Forced To Stay In Mexico, Now They’re Suing

Things That Matter

This Mother Was Allowed Into The US With Her Daughters But Her Partner And Son Were Forced To Stay In Mexico, Now They’re Suing

EqualityNow / Instagram

Remember their names: Maudy Constanza  and Hanz Morales. They are two Guatemalans who are suing the United States to keep their family together (they have two daughters who are with Constanza in the United States and one son, aged 9, who was returned to Mexico with Morales).

The recent crackdown on undocumented migrants and refugees under the Trump administration has produced all sorts of stories of broken homes, crushed dreams and near impossible survival. Chief among the many controversial steps that the government has taken in the last two years is the set of policies and transnational deals that have led many undocumented migrants to deportation.

The influx of migrants and asylum seekers into the United States comes from all over the world, and people fleeing dangerous situations in places as far as the Middle East or Africa use the southern border as an entry point into the US. However, the spotlight is usually placed on people of Latin American origin, mainly from Mexico and Central American countries that have long faced sectarian violence, social unrest, gangs and armed conflicts that, oftentimes, can be led back to what some critics claim is United States interventionism. Whatever the case is, the truth is that the American continent is experiencing a humanitarian crisis and governments will need to cooperate to ease human suffering and make asylum seeking processes more bearable. 

Most people whose families have been separated by the United States federal government remain silent in their powerlessness. After all, who would legally fight one of the most powerful countries in the world, right? Well, the answer lies in a Guatemalan couple that is actually suing the federal government in an effort to keep the family together. 

Maudy Constanza is an asylum seeker living in Massachusetts, her partner and son were ordered to remain in Mexico so they are suing.

Credit: Jonathan Wiggs / Boston Globe

The lawsuit claims that Trump’s asylum policy violates constitutional due process and does not guarantee equal rights. The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts in federal court in Boston last week.

The suit reads: “United States law protects asylum seekers like Ms. Constanza, Mr. Morales, and their children. The law forbids sending people to countries where they will be persecuted or tortured, and provides migrants with an opportunity to see an immigration judge before they may be sent to a place where they fear such persecution or torture.”

We have to remember that Guatemala lives unprecedented levels of violence and that the increasing flow of Central American migrants to Mexico has made them vulnerable as many individuals in the host country have perpetrated acts of violence and racism. 

Hanz Morales, Constanza’s partner, was shot four times in his home country of Guatemala, where criminality indexes are surging.

Guatemala is definitely not a safe place for Hanz Morales, and he fears for his life. The couple fled to Mexico with their three young children. They separated before crossing the United States border in July 2019. The Boston Globe details the ordeal that they escaped: “Hanz was a successful small business owner in a town 100 miles or so outside Guatemala City. Last year he witnessed a violent crime, during which he was shot. The family spent a year in hiding trying to evade the individuals who shot him, until they decided to move to the United States and seek asylum.” The rule of law not always holds true in Guatemala and other Latin American countries, so it was flee or die for the family. 

Constanza and her two daughters were allowed to stay in the United States, Morales and their 9-year-old son were sent back to Mexico, where unofficial refugee camps are dangerous and unsanitary.

Credit: Eric Gay / Getty

Morales and his son are among the approximately 50,000 individuals from Spanish-speaking countries that have been sent to Mexico to wait out their migration court process. This puts them in an extremely vulnerable situation and an economy of corrupt officials and lawyers, who take advantage of them, has sprouted in cities such as Reynosa and Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas.

As Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, told The Boston Globe: “In Matamoros, we now have what’s been called the worst refugee camp in the world.”

As the Associated Press reports, Morales and his son have experienced a hell on Earth while waiting in Mexico: “Morales and his son have survived an attempted kidnapping, struggled to find food and rarely leave their home because of the violent and dangerous conditions near the border, according to the ACLU. The organization wants a federal judge to declare the asylum policy unlawful and allow Morales and his son to await the outcome of their case in the U.S. with the rest of their family.” The ACLU has started similar processes in the Californian cities of San Diego and San Francisco. 

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