Things That Matter

Conservatives Are Creating A Ridiculous Conspiracy Theory About Congresswoman Veronica Escobar And Asylum Seekers

Freshman Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar is the target of accusations that she and her office are coaching asylum seekers to claim that they don’t speak Spanish in order to exploit the “remain in Mexico” policy. Escobar who says that accusations of immigration fraud are untrue is receiving threats on her life. In a statement from last week about the threats, Escobar, the first Latina to represent Texas in congress said, “I think it’s important for people to know that there’s consequences to their words.

“Being irresponsible and using xenophobia and bigotry to fuel hatred has a consequence.”

Escobar spoke on the consequences of bigotry while also addressing the threats.

But border patrol officials maintain that they are hearing “[Escobar’s office] is attempting to return people, and the story was changed in Mexico, where a person who understood Spanish before now doesn’t understand — where a person who didn’t have any health issues before now has health issues.”

While no evidence of fraud has been provided, officials also said, “They went through and interviewed everybody, cherry-picked them, brought them back, and now are using them as tag lines. They’re going over there and manufacturing a lot of these issues.”

The Texas Democrat believes that there is zero truth to the accusations of immigration fraud by Escobar or her office and that she is being targeted for raising concerns about border patrol violations of asylum laws.

Escobar has said that her office “has assisted constituents whose clients are asylum seekers who have been sent back to Mexico under Trump administration rules, “making it much harder for them to provide due process and counsel to their clients.”

Elected last November, Escobar is the congressional rep of Texas’ 16th Congressional District which includes El Paso, Texas which shares a border with Ciudad Juárez, México. Escobar, a former county judge, now holds the seat formerly held by Beto O’Rourke. She has been transparent about the fact that she and her office go routinely to México, taking meetings there necessary for elected officials who represent people whose lives are lived at the border of the United States and México.

It’s possible that border patrol suspicions about Escobar are motivated by the fact that she is Latina and/or from the same background as those she’s being accused of breaking laws to help. Others suspect that it is also possible that criticism by Donald Trump is in retaliation to Escobar’s criticism of the president who pardoned Arizona’s Joe Arpaio– a man ordered, in 2011, to stop detaining people solely on suspicions that they were undocumented. Arpaio was ultimately jailed for not complying.

Escobar, who studied English literature at New York University, also wrote the president a letter demanding that he apologize to citizens of El Paso, Texas for the misrepresentation of their city in his 2019 State of the Union address.

Calls to have Escobar removed have been growing online.

Regardless of the fact that there is no physical evidence to support claims that Veronica Escobar and her office have committed immigration fraud, last week, Texan, Samuel Williamson created a Change.org petition to have her removed from her congressional seat.

Various Twitter users have been asking similar questions about Escobar that many others are asking about Donald Trump and possible obstruction of the 2016 elections.

Presidential candidate hopeful, Beto O’Rourke quickly supported Escobar last week after suspicions about her began to circulate.

“You will not intimidate @RepEscobar. She is strong, she is fearless, and she will never stop fighting for El Paso, the border, and ensuring every single one of our fellow human beings is treated with dignity and respect. We are better off because of it,” the presidential hopeful wrote in a Twitter response.

Some Twitter users were swift in their criticism of O’Rourke by using the old “go home” insult.

Anyone reviewing Escobar’s Twitter feed, can see that Beto O’Rourke was correct in stating that the congresswoman will not be intimidated, as her page is filled with information and news stories about asylum laws, conditions in the detention camps, and even a link to her webpage where undocumented people at risk of detainment during the upcoming Trump administration raids can get information about rights guaranteed them under the US constitution, information about what to do if ICE agents come to their door, and information about what to do if arrested or detained.

The information on a congresswoman, Veronica Escobar’s webpage is available in both English and Spanish.

Latino War Veteran Files $1 Million Lawsuit Against ICE After Being Detained With American Passport In Possession

Things That Matter

Latino War Veteran Files $1 Million Lawsuit Against ICE After Being Detained With American Passport In Possession

wettoast / Instagram

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and lawyers for Jilmar Ramos-Gomez have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The lawsuit claims that the agencies acted in a racist manner when unlawfully detaining Ramos-Gomez, a Latino-American war veteran who had his American passport on his person at the time of his arrest. Last week, Michigan-born Ramos-Gomez won a $190k settlement against the City of Grand Rapids after its City Commission voted unanimously to pay the former marine after Grand Rapids Captain Curt VanderKooi invited an ICE officer to “please check his status.” Ramos-Gomez was then detained in ICE custody for three days, even though police body camera footage shows his American passport in the hands of the law enforcement that transferred him to ICE custody.

The new lawsuit seeks data and policies on all wrongfully detained people and policies and procedures regarding people with mental health issues or disabilities.

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez suffers from PTSD after serving in Afghanistan. 

CREDIT: @CHUCKPFARRER / TWITTER

Ramos-Gomez has received numerous medals for his service, which he served between October 2011 to August 2014 in Afghanistan. Often, Ramos-Gomez will ‘come to’ without having any recollection of what happened. During those PTSD episodes, he acts erratically. In November 2018, Ramos-Gomez allegedly set a small fire at a hospital, pulled a fire alarm and was found on the hospital’s helipad during one of those PTSD episodes. He was promptly arrested and pled guilty to a misdemeanor trespassing charge. Later, off-duty Cpt. VanderKooi saw his face on the local news and emailed an ICE officer, asking him to “please check his status.” When Ramos-Gomez was released from jail, he was transferred into the custody of ICE.

“Jilmar Ramos-Gomez fought and served our country selflessly, yet ICE tried to deport this hometown hero and blatantly disregarded his citizenship, service, and mental health challenges,” said Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan. “Mr. Ramos-Gomez and the public deserve to know why the United States government abused its own citizen and veteran, and how many others have suffered in the same way.”

The ACLU is alleging that ICE detained and tried to deport Ramos-Gomez, even though they had documentation that proved his veteran and citizenship status.

CREDIT: @ALEXHORTONTX / TWITTER

The ACLU obtained body camera footage from the arresting officer that shows Ramos-Gomez’s United States passport in his hands. Later, footage proves that the passport was key in identifying Ramos-Gomez. One officer asked if he had been identified, to which the officer responds, “His passport is down there.” Ramos-Gomez was detained in an ICE detention facility from Dec. 14 to 17 last year. 

“This is flagrant racial discrimination against a United States citizen and decorated combat veteran simply because of the color of his skin,” said Anand Swaminathan, ACLU cooperating attorney and partner at the Chicago law firm Loevy & Loevy. “Ramos-Gomez’s own government ignored his irrefutable proof of citizenship, and cruelly detained him because of his Latinx background.”

What’s worse, Cpt. VanderKooi mocked Ramos-Gomez’s mental illness in an email chain obtained by the ACLU.

CREDIT: ACLU OF MICHIGAN

This wasn’t simply a human error. Cpt. VanderKooi forwarded the email chain to the detective assigned to Ramos-Gomez’s trespassing charge, but changed the subject line to read “Spectrum Helicopter Pad Loco,” according to documents obtained by the ACLU, mocking the veteran’s PTSD as “loco” or “crazy.” “It is not clear what mad intent was involved in this breach of hospital security but here is the report,” Cpt. VanderKooi added in the email. Another police officer forwarded the chain to a prosecutor, who replied, “I am confused. Didn’t his property have a U.S. Passport in it? And he was a veteran?!” The officer simply responded, “Who knows, not sure it was a US passport. … I am not sure about the vet thing.”

The information was there, but it seems the intent to discover the truth was less than the intent to deport this man.

Since ICE tried to deport Ramos-Gomez, he “rarely leaves his home.”

CREDIT: JILMAR RAMOS-GOMEZ / FACEBOOK

According to the ACLU, Ramos-Gomez’s mental health “severely deteriorated” while he was in ICE custody. He and his fellow detainees were “mistreated and ridiculed,” and Ramos-Gomez was hospitalized shortly after his release from custody. It’s been exactly one year to the day since that fateful day Cpt. VanderKooi saw a Latino man’s face on the local news and invited ICE to investigate.  According to the ACLU, Ramos-Gomez “now rarely leaves his home or spends time in his community.”

READ: A Latino Veteran Wins $190K Settlement After Being Detained By ICE While Carrying His US Passport

Neon Indian’s ‘Toyota Man’ Is A Pro-Immigration Anthem That Fans Are Loving And Supporting

Entertainment

Neon Indian’s ‘Toyota Man’ Is A Pro-Immigration Anthem That Fans Are Loving And Supporting

alan_palomo / Instagram

Amidst President Trump’s impeachment hearings, a new protest song is making the rounds online. Except this one sounds more like a festive, satirical and catchy tune; rather than a political critique. Just last week, Neon Indian dropped his first song in Spanish “Toyota Man” after four years of not releasing any new music. The pro-immigration anthem references classics like Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” The song talks about migrant laborers, the American dream, and DACA recipients in a catchy and witty way. 

Alan Palomo aka Neon Indian dropped his new single last week, “Toyota Man,” with a self-directed video that tells his immigration story. 

Palomo’s video for “Toyota Man” opens with himself standing at the U.S.-Mexico border flipping through cue cards. “Llegamos al apartamento cuatro de un tío después que cruzamos el río en Reynosa.”  Born in Monterrey, Mexico, the Chillwave singer tells the story of his crossing the border through Reynosa on to San Antonio and Austin. Once in ‘el otro lado’ he gets hired to wash Toyota trucks. The musician takes a rag to a red vehicle in what could be an ode to American underground experimental filmmaker, Kenneth Anger’s “Kustom Kar Kommandos,” 

Fiestas, piñatas, tacos, and abuelas, the satirical video is all about representing Alan Palomo’s Mexican culture.

Credit: Neon Indian / YouTube

At a backyard party featuring the classic taquiza and piñatas, a  Trump-shaped piñata comes to life and makes a run for it. The 45th president  duels with an abuela, and gets chased by children to the sound of the chorus “Venimos a estudiar, queremos trabajar, y aunque lo quieran negar, todos somos Americanos” Spanish for “we come to study, we want to work and even if they want to deny it, we’re all American.” There’s also a puppet show about migrant labor, a cowboy giving birth to cars and a lot more weird stuff going on before the Trump-ñata gets hits by a car and spills green cards all over the road.

The pro-immigrant anthem speaks to the American dream.

Credit: alan_palomo / Instagram

Palomo calls out Uncle Sam for all the obstacles the U.S. government has put in place to ensure that immigrants find it hard to achieve success and stability. He talks about citizenship trials, labor rights violations, ’Aquí tu no cuentas igual,’ he sings. “Though my music has always been generally apolitical,” Alan Palomo said in a statement to Pitchfork, “I realized when recording this song that it was impossible to write biographically (in the rhetorical context of the Trump administration) without being entirely that: political. The story of my family, which before felt commonly American, was suddenly politicized.”

Palomo’s first song in Spanish, “Toyota Man” takes from a variety of both Mexican and American classic tunes.

Credit: alan_palomo / Instagram

The beat of the Mexican folk song “La Cucaracha,” plays in the riff of ‘Toyota Man’. Palomo mentions “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” “Te tienes que aguantar hasta que no te puedan deportar, asi es este party in the U.S.A.”

But above all, ‘Toyota Man’ is a satirical pro-immigration Latino song.

Credit: alan_palomo / Instagram

“Recognizing the absurdity of it all,” said Palomo in a statement, “I thought it would be refreshing to address the social narrative around immigration through comedy — nods to Benny Hill, misremembered San Antonio car commercials, and School House Rock. My family and I had a ton of fun making this and I hope it’s equally as fun to watch.”

“Toyota Man” is Neon Indian’s first track since his 2015 album.

Credit: alan_palomo / Instagram

The track is Palomo’s first new single since his 2015 album, “VEGA INTL. Night School” and his all-star Prince tribute in 2016. The tone and sound of his new song “Toyota Man,” hints at a new direction for the indie-rock artist. He’s talked about singing in his native language for a while, and if this track is any indication, perhaps we can expect more personal, political works from Neon Indian, and hopefully, a new album is in the works.

Neon Indian is nearing the end of a fall U.S. tour that wraps up on Nov. 29 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

READ: These Drug Smugglers Left The Internet Laughing At Their Less Than Intelligent Attempts At Smuggling Drugs