Things That Matter

Florida Is Moving To Deputize Prison Guards As ICE Agents In A Move That Will Terrorize The Community

A federal advisory board in Florida has approved a measure to deputize state correctional offers as federal immigration agents. The state is now waiting on the “Memorandum of Agreement” from ICE to begin initiating the program. Republican Florida officials are enthusiastic about the new approach that will allow prison guards to profile inmates booked into prison to determine if they are undocumented immigrants. 

“(Corrections) Secretary Mark Inch has made great progress in his collaborative relationship with ICE and we are moving forward with this program,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement.

DeSantis has been cracking down on immigration and has been pushing for the program since April. Backed by Donald Trump, DeSantis is more than happy to imitate the administration’s rigid policies. 

DeSantis believes the program will be good for public safety.

“I believe public safety is important to maintain the best quality of life in our communities which is why I am extremely pleased that the Legislature gave me a sanctuary city bill I signed into law,” DeSantis said.

Florida has a sanctuary-city prohibition where law enforcement agencies are required to hold undocumented immigrants in custody for up to 48 hours if there is a detainer request from a federal agency. 

Five correctional officers will be trained by federal immigration authorities in the program. Democrats and immigrants rights groups believe the program will hurt immigrant communities not benefit public safety. 

“Turning our state employees into ICE agents at Florida taxpayer expense will not make our state safer,” said Casey Bruce-White, director of communications for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

Opponents believe the sanctuary-city ban will lead to racial profiling.

“The ACLU and other opponents argue, in part, that policies such as the sanctuary-city ban will force local governments to spend resources to do the job of federal immigration agents. Also, they say the policies could lead to racial profiling across the state,” according to the Miami Herald. 

Florida isn’t alone in its plan to deputize prison guards, the approval would make it the fourth state to implement such a program in state-run prisons. Arizona, Massachusetts, and Georgia are the three others with similar ICE contracts. State taxpayer money will be used to pay for the program as Florida will be responsible for covering the tab on all travel, housing, and per diem costs. 

Meanwhile, 14 county jails also work with ICE. The decision to use local law enforcement as ICE operatives has received the ire of South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard. 

“As soon as the community perceives the local police as agents of ICE, they stop talking to the local police, and that makes everybody less safe,” he told the Miami Herald. “Now, there will be a whole segment of our community unwilling to report crimes. It’s already the case in a lot of immigrant communities, and this makes it worse.”

Florida immigrants face soaring arrest rates.  

A new polarizing law implemented by DeSantis allows 18-year-olds to work as correctional officers as a way to correct the increasingly high turnover rate. In September, the Florida Department of Corrections officials asked lawmakers for roughly $90 million to address the staffing issue, calling the issue “exceptionally high turnover rates.” 

“Staffing at the department has reached critically low level, and many of the staff currently employed are extremely inexperienced,” agency officials wrote in the budget request. 

However, the Miami Herald noted that Florida sheriff’s offices were eager to participate in working with federal immigration agencies, perhaps the new program will have the same allure to interested parties. 

According to the Tampa Bay Times, since Trump launched his strict immigration policies, the detention of noncriminals has soared due to tens of thousands of immigrants with no convictions being arrested. Undocumented immigrants in Florida with no convictions are seven times higher to be arrested than under the Obama administration, the highest surge in the U.S. 

The Trump administration arrested 53,441 immigrants without records in a single year, three times the rate of the Obama administration, which focused on undocumented immigrants who committed serious crimes. 

In Florida, one in every five residents is an immigrant with roughly 4.1 million foreign-born individuals making up 20 percent of the population. Florida immigration lawyers believe racial profiling has run rampant in the state. Federal law allows immigration agencies to have jurisdiction within 100 miles of the border, and within that jurisdiction, they can arrest anyone without a warrant. Because Florida is surrounded by water on three sides, the entire state is within the jurisdiction. 

“I do respect the need for immigration laws and that they do need to be enforced. I know a lot of good federal agents at (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). But they’re being misdirected,” said Chad Brandt, attorney at Orlando’s Brandt Immigration, told the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re wasting those precious resources on people who are building houses and cleaning hotel rooms.”

Florida Police Are Investigating How A Fully Loaded Assault Rifle Ended Up In A Baby Einstein’s Box Bought At A Goodwill

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Florida Police Are Investigating How A Fully Loaded Assault Rifle Ended Up In A Baby Einstein’s Box Bought At A Goodwill

Veronica Alvarez-Rodriguez / Facebook

A Florida military couple was shocked when they saw their friends open their baby shower gift, purchased at Goodwill, only to find a semi-automatic rifle neatly stored in the seemingly unopened Baby Einstein bouncer. Veronica Alvarez-Rodriguez said that she and her husband were on their way to a baby shower when they stopped at the Valparaiso Goodwill and found what they thought was the perfect gift. When the father-to-be, Jonathan Rosas, opened the box, he was delighted, and shouted: “You guys got me a gun!” Alvarez-Rodriguez told the Northwest Florida Daily News.

The Rosas’ baby shower for baby Johnathan ended with a visit from Crestview Police Officers, who initially said they could keep the gun.

At first, the parents-to-be thought the Alvarez-Rodriguez family was pranking them.

CREDIT: VERONICA ALVAREZ-RODRIGUEZ / FACEBOOK

Jonathan Rosas is a military man himself, so he initially thought their friends actually gifted him an assault rifle, but was making a joke by packaging it inside a Baby Einstein toy box. “The funniest part is they opened gifts in front of everyone and they thought we were pranking them🤣🤣Nope, lol that was not supposed to be in there but the dad to be got a better gift than a bouncer,” Alvarez-Rodriguez later commented on Facebook. Guests laughed away while the Alvarez-Rodriguez family was dumbfounded. The box looked like it had never been opened, and they thought they had just scored a brand new brand-name baby jumper for just $9.99 at Goodwill. As it turns out, there was nothing baby-friendly about the gift, though they did get a very good deal on a gun. 

“💰When you go to the Goodwill for a baby shower gift thinking you got a good deal on a bouncer ($10) not even opened and you end up opening a 🔫MOSSBERG 715T Semi-Auto Rifle 😱😱,” Veronica Alvarez-Rodriguez posted on Facebook. The Crestview Police were called to the house, where they searched for the serial number of the gun, and found that it was “clean.” “Serial number was clean & Crestview Police said do what you want with it🏆,” Alvarez-Rodriguez posted. “The gun now belongs to Baby Jonathan who is due to enter this world any day now 😂 #wegiftedhimhisfirstgun” 

The responding officer suspected no foul-play and thinks that someone’s wife just tricked her husband into donating the gun.

CREDIT: VERONICA ALVAREZ-RODRIGUEZ / FACEBOOK

The group immediately called the police once they realized that an assault rifle was hidden in a baby toy box and donated to Goodwill. The officers arrived at the baby shower and checked the couple’s identifications to make sure they weren’t convicted felons, and then began wondering out loud how on earth an assault rifle arrived inside a baby toy box. Alvarez-Rodriguez later commented on her Facebook post that the assigning officer guessed that “someone’s wife probably got mad at the husband and took his gun and dropped it off.” The officer initially allowed the family to keep the gun, but the next day, police asked Jonathan Rosas to turn over the gun while they run it through a database with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Crestview PD confirmed that the weapon was not stolen, but are holding the gun for 90 days while they come to understand the purchase history. That means that we may find out how the gun landed at a Goodwill. 

Crestview and Valparaiso Police Departments are working a theory that the rifle may have been donated at a collection point anywhere between Tallahassee and Pensacola before it arrived at the Valparaiso Goodwill. The rifle was fully loaded inside the box. Police are now saying they believe someone donated the baby-bouncer to Goodwill without knowing its contents, according to Military Times.

The Rosas are expected to receive the gun after the 90-day hold period.

CREDIT: AMBER ROSAS / FACEBOOK

In case you’re wondering, someone asked Alvarez-Rodriguez how she didn’t notice the weight difference between a baby bouncer and an assault rifle. “I mean metal poles on the bouncer & metal gun and some ammo ??” she answered, adding that the box says it should weight 25 pounds, but agrees that it’s “definitely a mysteriously crazy find.” Alvarez-Rodriguez’s Facebook friends didn’t believe that the rifle could fit inside the box, so she later posted a video of the rifle inside the box as further evidence to an unimaginably wild story to believe.

By the time the gun is returned to them, their baby will likely be two to three months old. Would you have an assault rifle in the same house as your baby?

READ: California Man Arrested With Drugs And Guns While Keeping A Person Hostage And Suspected Of Murder

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

@ajplus / Twitter

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.”