Things That Matter

Lawyers Release Racist Texts By Border Agent Who’s On Trial For Running Over Undocumented Man

Matthew Bowen, a border agent currently on trial, is facing fierce backlash after a judge released text messages the agent shared about migrants. Bowen is on trial for allegedly hitting a Guatemalan man with his truck and his text messages about migrants are painting a picture of hate and racism.

Border agent Matthew Bowen faces charges after he ran over an undocumented man several times near the border in late 2017.

According to media reports, an undocumented man jumped over the fence in Nogales, Arizona. The entire incident was caught on surveillance cameras. Bowen and other agents followed the man who was hiding under a semi-truck at a gasoline station. The man was told to get out from under, and when he did, Bowen ran him over, and he did it again.

The Arizona Central reports that another agent on the scene witnessed Bowen driving his Ford F-150. Bowen “quickly turned his truck and ‘accelerated aggressively into a position behind the running [victim] — this maneuver put the front grille of the (truck) directly behind [the victim.'” The witness adds that as the man continued to flee, Bowen “followed closely behind him, striking Lopez Aguilar twice.” Bowen then ran him over as he lay on the ground. Fortunately, the man did survive and was taken to the hospital.

Bowen would later describe his actions as “just a little push with a Ford bumper.”

“I bumped a guat with a truck while driving about 7 mph,” his text reads. “No injury at all and tonk refused medical.”

He also said in a text, “If I had to tackle the tonk I would still be doing memos. I wonder how they expect us to apprehend wild…runners who don’t want to be apprehended?”

Prosecutors are making the case that Bowen has a history of racist views and illegal actions based on his texts.

Court documents, released in April, show Bowen’s views of immigrants and would refer to them as “s—bags,” The Washington Post reports.

Here’s another exchange, according to the Arizona Central: Bowen asked another agent, “Did you gas hiscorpse (sic) or just use regular peanut oil while tazing?? For a frying effect.” Then Bowen added: “Guats are best made crispy, with olive oil from their native pais.” He also used the phrase, “mindless murdering savage.”

His defense lawyers said that the texts are not relevant to this case.

“How Mr. Bowen referred to aliens in specific text does not aid the jury in determining whether he, on this occasion, set out to use excessive force to apprehend the alleged victim,” the lawyer said, according to the Post.

Bowen’s next court date is in August, and he is currently on leave from his position without pay.

Read: An Arizona Border Patrol Agent Spent 6 Years Arresting Immigrants While Being Undocumented Himself

Cuban Man Who Held Undocumented Immigrants for Ransom, Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison

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Cuban Man Who Held Undocumented Immigrants for Ransom, Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison

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The man who led a group of criminals to prey on and kidnap undocumented women and children in an extortion scheme has been sentenced to 14 years in prison by a federal judge. Francisco Betancourt, a Cuban immigrant, led a group of other Latino, Spanish-speaking men to target Central American immigrants, who had just arrived, disoriented, at bus stops in New York City, seeking to be reunited with their families. Betancourt would use his Latinidad to gain the immigrants’ trust, then, steal their bus tickets, and coerce them to get into a cab that would ultimately cost their families well over $1,000 in “cab fees.”

District Attorney Judge John H. Durham announced Thursday that Betancourt was sentenced in New York, New York by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill to 168 months of imprisonment in the Bridgeport facility, followed by three years of supervised release. Betancourt will be 84 years old by the time he is released from prison.

Francisco Betancourt conspired with three other Latino men to carry out the kidnappings of primarily young mothers with children.

Credit: @TheWomensWatch / Twitter

“The victims included women, men, and children from Central American countries who did not speak English and were seeking asylum in the U.S,” according to a statement by the US District of Connecticut Attorney’s office. “Some of the victims planned to travel from New York to Connecticut. Telling the victims that a connecting bus was not available and that they would provide transportation, Betancourt and others coerced the victims into vehicles. The co-conspirators would then drive the victims around, sometimes for hours, and refused to release them until they or their families agreed to pay the co-conspirators an exorbitant amount of money, on average more than a $1000.”

Betancourt used his Latinidad to victimize fellow immigrants.

Credit: @migrantfreedom / Twitter

Betancourt allegedly fled Cuba on the Mariel boatlift that famously aided a mass emigration of Cubans in the 1980s. Prosecutors allege that Betancourt was one of the prisoners, convicted of theft, that Castro ejected from the island and put on a ship with other freed inmates and mentally ill people to Mariel, Florida. Betancourt has served two prison sentences in the United States since his arrival. 

His victims were often young women traveling with children. They were nearly at the end of a long, treacherous journey, often having traveled from their dangerous homes in Central America, through Mexico, and past the U.S. border. Once granted asylum, or strapped with tracking ankle devices, border authorities put them on a bus from the border to New York City. Days of traveling later, they have one more bus to catch before being reunited with family.

At times, Betancourt’s co-conspirators would pose as immigration officers to further intimidate the victims.

Credit: @icegov / Twitter

Betancourt and his crime gang could spot the families from a mile away, having been immigrants themselves. They would steal their bus tickets and immigration forms and tell them that they worked for ICE and had arranged a taxi cab service instead. With their contact information in hand, from their immigration forms, they would call their relatives and request a taxi fare (ransom) for $2,000. Often, the families didn’t have enough money on hand, and they would settle for hundreds of dollars less. Because the relatives were often undocumented, they would never report the crime. 

Half of the four-person gang of criminals have been sentenced, with another two co-conspirators awaiting their sentences.

Pascual Rodriguez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, had already been sentenced in July to nearly 12 years in prison. Upon his release, his custody will be transferred to ICE, which will promptly deport him. Carlos Antonio Hernandez and Lucilo Cabrera have both been convicted in the extortion scheme, but are awaiting their sentences. Meanwhile, Betancourt is likely to live out his remaining days in prison.

Meanwhile, folks are pointing out the similarities between Betancourt’s crimes and Trump’s policies. 

Credit: Twitter

“Strangely enough, Trump is doing the exact same thing……” tweeted Raul A. Maestri, Jr (@itsgoodtoberaul). “Can he charge Trump with the same?” asks Justin Clay (@jclaywow32). “I hope that man was named Donald J Trump,” tweeted @LindaMadison10. Trump’s administration has seen an increase in privatization of immigrant detention facilities. The stricter the punishments placed on immigrants, the more money private detention centers receive from the federal government. 

Trump’s policies have drastically increased the number of migrants in detention and privatized detention facility political action committees like the GEO Group Inc contribute 89 percent of their political donations to Republicans.

READ: Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent

This Study Just Identified The Most Migrant-Friendly Cities In The US And The List Might Surprise You

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This Study Just Identified The Most Migrant-Friendly Cities In The US And The List Might Surprise You

One of the biggest misconceptions that the world has about the United States and its approach to migration, particularly during the Trump administration, is that immigrants are facing rejection everywhere. It is important to explain, however, that federal policies for which the White House and State Departments are responsible sometimes run contrary to what states and even city officials do. 

That is the case of immigrant policies: states like California, for example, have often disagreed with federal authorities in issues such as sanctuary cities. In turn, cities like Chicago, for example, boost and celebrate migration and the multicultural prism that it generates, and run programs that attempt to make new arrivals feel welcome and become a part of the wider community. 

A new study has revealed which cities are most welcoming for migrants, fostering their incorporation into the wider community and encouraging diversity and cultural exchange.

Credit: New American Economy

The study was conducted by New American Economy, a bipartisan research group that is doing work on Immigration Reform. This is the second annual city-index. New American Economy was established by very wealthy corporate executives and mayors including Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch. The group’s webpage states its aim: “fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans”.

The group conducts high-end research and they have found that migrants are very important to the economy (duh! did you need all that research to find that out?).

In their first report they found out that “more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children – a key takeaway that has shifted perspectives and laid the foundation for better conversations about the role of immigrants in our economy and society”. Yessir! The study took into account cities that met these criteria: “Total population is more than 200,000 people. Foreign-born population is more than 10,000 people. The share of total population that is foreign-born is more than 3.6 percent”. 

Chicago reigns supreme! The jewel of the Midwest.

Credit: Crain’s Chicago Business

As a region, the Midwest was the most accomodating site for new arrivals. So why was Chicago ranked on top? Because it provides a better environment for social, political and economic integration. The city’s mayor Lori Lightfoot was, of course, superhappy, and said in a statement: “We are tremendously proud Chicago has been named the most welcoming city in America for immigrants and refugees. This ranking reflects the passionate and dedicated work of countless public officials and community members across our city who have come together to stand up and fight for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities, no matter the cost”. Preach!

Let’s not forget that Chicago’s history is full of migratory waves from Greece, Poland, Mexico, Italy… basically people from all over the world have contributed to the economic and social fabric of the city. 

Second place, Chula Vista, California… and the state as a whole is pretty well ranked.

Credit: Port Of San Diego

It is interesting how the border state of California has a total of four cities in the top 10. Common sense could dictate that the states closer to the border would face more challenges when it comes to migration, but the study reveals that California is using its history to develop better programs for integration. The state is in a key geopolitical position: bordering Mexico and the conflicted entry point of Tijuana, but also with a shore in the Pacific Ocean which encourages ties with Asia and Oceania.  Chula Vista got perfect scores for Economic Empowerment, Community, and Inclusivity. Well done! 

A very honorable third spot: Jersey City.

Credit: Jersey Digs

Jersey is sometimes seen as secondary to New York City, but it is the third place, a great win in itself. According to the report: “The city earns high marks for Government Leadership, Inclusivity, and Community, among others. Economic Empowerment and Civic Participation are two areas where the city could improve”. 

4th… San Francisco, California, the entryway for many Asian migrants.

Credit: AARP

San Francisco’s history is tightly linked to migration. This city has attracted multiple groups since the Gold Rush, up to the dotcom era when many young professionals arrived in the city looking for that big breakthrough. According to the report, the city scores great in most areas but is expensive: “The city boasts impressive marks across the board in all policy categories. There is room to improve when it comes to Livability, which takes into things such as cost of living and educational attainment levels”.

Yes, the city is very expensive for anyone… one of the most costly in the world. But those views, though!