Things That Matter

Ted Cruz Couldn’t Of Been Expecting This When He Showed Up For His Flight At LAX

People are hyper-aware of the detention centers on the southern border and how the overcrowding and indefinite detentions are harming children. This awareness has touched all parts of American society and people. The frustration over the treatment of children on the southern border bubbled over this week when protesters confronted Texas Senator Ted Cruz as he waited for a flight at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Texas Senator Ted Cruz was on the receiving end of angry protesters while waiting for a flight at LAX.

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It isn’t immediately clear what started the confrontation, but it is clear that people were ready to tell the senator what they think of his job. Cruz was confronted while waiting for a flight and the protesters first shouted all of their various frustrations. Soon, all of the protesters were on the same page demanding that the U.S. government “free the children” while some people posed for selfies with the senator.

Cruz represents one of the states in the middle of the migrant crisis. Last month, the world learned about the atrocious and inhumane conditions in the detention facility in Clint, Texas.

People responded to the viral video with their own thoughts about the protesters shouting at Cruz.

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Welcome to California, indeed. Californians have made their views known about the Trump administration and the migrant crisis at the border. California recently approved a bill that would extend healthcare to undocumented immigrants. One that Cruz at one point defended and promoted.

Others pointed out Cruz’s reaction to being shouted at by the protesters.

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While concerned Americans voiced their thoughts to Cruz, he found it amusing, according to some people watching the video. As people confronted the senator, some people can be seen taking up for him and even getting between him and the protesters. Some even took the opportunity to take selfies and photos with him.

It seems like a good opportunity for Cruz to see how other people feel about his politics when not surrounded by people who agree with him.

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There is a problem with echo chambers and bubbles when it comes to American politics right now. Facebook has been implicated in exacerbating the problem after Cambridge Analytica abused the system and tools to sway voters through misinformation. The Netflix documentary “Great Hack” implied that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg willfully ignored the dangers posed by the data-mining company.

There has been a growing sense of civil unrest and protests as some states try to silence dissenters.

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According to the Washington Post, 17 states have introduced legislation attempting to make protesting a criminal activity by banning the use of masks during protests, seizing the property of people in protests that run violent, and, in some cases, indemnifying drivers who use their car to hit protesters blocking roads. Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

People are calling on Texas voters to vote Cruz out of office.

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Ted Cruz barely won reelection in 2018 against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke. The fact that a Republican almost lost their seat in the Senate to a Democrat in Texas sent shockwaves through the political world. O’Rourke is now running for the presidential nomination as part of the Democratic party.

Some Texans even showed their support of the protesters.

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According to the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, 47 percent of Texans approve and 39 percent of Texans disapprove of Cruz’s job in the U.S. Senate. When broken down by race, 55 percent of white voters approve of the Senators job while 45 percent of Black voters and 43 percent of Latino voters disapprove of Cruz’s job.

This isn’t the first time Cruz has been called out on his positions in public.

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In September 2018, Cruz and his wife were out to eat at a restaurant in Washington and were confronted by protesters because of his support of Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing was a highly charged moment in U.S. politics as he was accused of raping a girl when he was a teenager.

Some people are waiting for history and karma to do their things.

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The saying goes that history is written by the winners. However, with a digital world in which misinformation and lies reign supreme, how will history be written? We have seen examples of history being manipulated from state to state to paint a political image rather than an accurate portrayal of the events. How will we guarantee that history is left nonpartisan and honest for generations to come?

Regardless, the Twitter thread is filled with people celebrating that use of #FreeTheChildren as a rallying cry.

Free the children is something most Americans should be able to agree with. There is no reason why children should die of the flu while in U.S. immigration custody.

Watch the confrontation below!

What do you think about the way protesters confronted Cruz at LAX?

READ: Ted Cruz’s Legal Team Believes That His Fight For $10,000 Is The Same As Rosa Parks’s Fight For Civil Rights

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

Things That Matter

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. 

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“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

A Man Was Convicted Of A Crime He Didn’t Commit And 11 Years Later He Was Finally Exonerated

Things That Matter

A Man Was Convicted Of A Crime He Didn’t Commit And 11 Years Later He Was Finally Exonerated

@LADAOffice / Twitter

In 2008, Ruben Martinez Jr. was sentenced to 47 years and eight months in prison for crimes he never committed. Nearly 13 years after his arrest, Martinez walked out of the Los Angeles Superior Court a free man, exonerated from his wrongful conviction. “I did not do this time by myself,” Martinez said on the court steps. “My family did time. My wife did time with me, did the 11 years with me. I couldn’t do it on my own, by my own strength. It was God’s strength that got me through this.” His wife, Maria Martinez, a secretary for the sheriff’s department, appealed the conviction five times only to be rejected each time.

Ruben may have never experienced freedom if Maria didn’t pull some strings to convince prosecutors to look at his case, a sobering detail for innocent inmates without connections.

Ruben and Maria were all smiles as their unjust chapter came to a close.

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“All my husband wanted was for the truth to be revealed. Well, the truth has been revealed, and he’s a free man,” Maria Martinez said. Ruben had never wavered in his innocence and even turned down a plea deal that would have given him a two and a half year prison sentence. “I am sorry for this injustice and I am so happy that you did not give up on us and allowed us to share this moment,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey, pictured in the blazer, told the Martinez family. 

“Mr. Martinez and his wife proved to be unstoppable in their pursuit of his freedom,” DA Lacey told reporters. “Throughout this terrible experience, the two were never deterred by setbacks and instead demonstrated remarkable strength and dignity through what I imagine must have been a dark time in their lives.”

Ruben Martinez Jr. was convicted, even though he was working when the crimes were committed.

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All it took was one witness to identify Ruben as the armed robber who held up the same auto body shop five times. During the 2005 to 2007 sprees, Ruben was employed at a temporary employment agency and has proof that he was working during two of the robberies. In fact, Ruben had to endure two trials that failed to prove his innocence. The first trial ended as a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked. During the second trial, two key witnesses to his innocence were not called by either the defense or the prosecution. He was convicted and sentenced to 47 years and eight months in prison on nine counts of armed robbery.

But Maria was relentless in proving his innocence.

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

After five rejected appeals, Maria leaned on close family friend and retired homicide detective, Catherine Wills. Wills and her husband were so close with the Martinez’s that Wills’s husband walked Maria down the aisle and gave her hand to Ruben. Wills and Maria compiled six months of research into a binder to give to DA Lacey. Wills’ credibility and persistence went a long way. “I told them, ‘Look, I’m 82 years old now, and I’m not going to die until Ruben Martinez is out of prison,'” Wills reportedly said.

In 2015, DA Lacey’s office created a unit dedicated to reviewing wrongful conviction claims, but Ruben’s case is only the third case supported in four years. Still, it was DA Lacey’s unit that “painstakingly tracked down witnesses and uncovered employment records and pay stubs that confirmed that Mr. Martinez could not have committed two of the crimes that were clearly the work of the same serial robber,” CNN reports Lacey to have said.

Ruben says that he has “no grudges.”

Credit: @LADAOffice / Twitter

Ruben is the first person that DA Lacey exonerated without any legal representation. “Although the vast majority of convictions are correctly upheld, I knew that, at times, the pursuit of justice, which depends on human beings, is not perfect,” Lacey told reporters. “And Mr. Martinez’s case serves as a stark reminder to all of us: Despite our best efforts, we don’t always get it right.”

“The Lord Jesus Christ is a part of my life, and there’s no grudges.” Ruben told the crowd. “People are human people do make mistakes. But what touches me is when the DA got behind me and stamped me … and proved me innocent — so what grudge?” What’s next for Ruben? Right now, he’s just excited to get his driver’s license and get a job.

READ: Eight New Witnesses Implicate Stites’ Fiancé, A Former Cop, Pointing To Rodney Reed’s Innocence