Things That Matter

A 16-Year-Old Girl Was Strip Searched By Border Patrol Agents, And Her Father Is Seeking Justice

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A 16-year old San Diego girl was strip-searched by Border Patrol agents after they felt her maxi pad during a pat down.

CREDIT: Scott Catlin with his three daughters. Via GoFundMe

CBS8 San Diego reports that on September 5, the teen and her two older sisters, who are 20 and 18 years old, were crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from Tijuana into the U.S. through the San Ysidro Port of Entry after visiting their grandmother. When a K-9 unit alerted officers in the general direction where the sisters were standing in line, they were taken to secondary inspection for questioning by U.S. Customs officials. The 16-year-old was separated from her sisters, taken to another room alone by two female Customs agents where her father, Scott Catlin, claims she was touched throughout her body. When agents detected a maxi pad on her, they performed a strip search on the teen to, as Catlin described to CBS8, “make sure the pad they already touched was not contraband or had contraband.”

A lawyer speaking on behalf of Catlin and his family said the U.S. Customs officers made no attempt to contact the parents of the teen before performing the search.

This is not the first incident like this to be reported. CBS8 reports that the American Friends Service Committee, a religious organization that advocates for peace and social justice, has received 50 complaints of inappropriate touching this year. ABC News also reported that the ACLU is currently investigating several instances of abuse against minors at the hands of Border Patrol agents.

Catlin has opened a GoFundMe page to support legal fees and therapy for his daughter. On the page, he writes:

As many of you know the rights of our 3 daughters were recently violated by Homeland Security.  All 3 were traumatized, especially our youngest who was touched inappropriately in her private area (sexually assaulted) then forced to endure a demeaning and illegal strip search without consent and no parental notification. We are seeking all remedies to hold those involved accountable and to prevent other innocent parties from abuse… Together we can hold the Government and it’s agents accountable for their heinous misconduct protecting all of our vulnerable youth as well as those government agents who are honorable, follow the rules, and have basic human decency who are sullied by the misconduct of others.

To watch the CBS8 interview with Scott Catlin, click here.


READ: Corruption Among Border Patrol Agents Highlighted In This Tense Documentary

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Trump Has Made It More Difficult For Cubans To Seek Asylum So Many Are Being Forced To Settle In Mexico

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Trump Has Made It More Difficult For Cubans To Seek Asylum So Many Are Being Forced To Settle In Mexico

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Among the dilapidated buildings in Downtown Juárez lies Little Habana, a new restaurant emblazoned with Cuban flags, classic car art, and blasting reggaeton music providing the local growing community of Cuban asylum seekers a reminder of home. 

NPR recently reported about the new eatery that owner Cristina Ibarra opened four months ago once she noticed the burgeoning Cuban community that’s developing in the area.

She ran a taco business for 20 years before opening up a place that’s meant to evoke home for the refugees. 

“The Cubans leave their hotels and come to eat at the restaurant as if it were their own home,” Ibarra told NPR. “They stretch out, relax and talk. They share their experiences, their fears, their accomplishments … and that gives me tremendous satisfaction right now.”

The dishes are not interpretations but authentic recipes since all of her 14 employees are from the Caribbean island and advise her on menu items.

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Vamos a probar #ComidaCubana

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The menu includes traditional fare like ropa vieja, pork chunks in a tomato stew, and three different types of rice. Her efforts extend to the decor and interior as well with bright orange and yellow walls, art depicting a street scene in Cuba, and, naturally, the lone star amid the red, white, and blue of the Cuban flag hanging on the wall. 

The restaurant opening occurred around the time of a new policy introduced by the Trump administration nicknamed  “remain in Mexico” since it requires those seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. Before the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, those seeking asylum could reside in the U.S. while they waited. 

The number of Cubans at U.S. entry ports and categorized as “inadmissibles” by Customs and Border Protection continues to increase with more than 20,000 expected to seek entry this year.

In 2016 during the Obama administration,  the U.S. deported 64 Cubans but in 2018, the Trump administration deported 463 and this year that number will increase to 560, the LA Times added. 

So far this fiscal year, 6,312 Cubans have arrived in El Paso seeking asylum, whereas the previous fiscal year had 394, according to Custom and Border Protection figures 

“This is a terrible moment for Cuban migrants. There’s desperation and alarm because of the latest measures,” Yaimí González, a 41-year-old who fled Cuba three months ago, said to The Wall Street Journal.

“I just don’t see a solution to our situation,” González added. She now sells french fries at a stand in Ciudad Juárez making $10 a day, which barely pays for the guesthouse room that she shares with four Cuban male migrants, WSJ reports. 

Though MPP affects all asylum seekers, Cubans have historically received better treatment as they were viewed as political refugees.

For decades, Cubans caught at sea would be forced to return but if they stepped foot on U.S. soil they could stay and seek permanent residence after a year and a day. Obama ended the policy, known as “wet foot, dry foot” – in January 2017 and Trump has not reinstated it. 

Now the Trump administrations has banned U.S.-based cruise ships from traveling to Cuba, economically affected groups catering to tourists on the island, and he also imposed restrictions on sending money to the island. 

While they wait for a decision on their case, economics continue to plague Cuban migrants who find work where they can in order to pay for whatever housing they can find in what’s considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. 

NPR spoke with Melba, 32, a waitress at Little Habana who arrived in April and told them that she’s found meaning in her work as she tends to fellow Cubans who, like her, eagerly await to find out if they’ll ever make it to the U.S. 

She and her husband rent a hotel room for about $12 a day and she earns about $20 per day plus tips at the restaurant, NPR reports. This is in stark contrast to her life in Brazil, where she worked as a doctor for nearly a decade as part of a Cuban government exchange program, the LA Times reports. When she was asked what she’d say to Trump if she could, she told the publication, “In Cuba, there is no freedom like you live.”

As the Trump administration continues to make it harder for Cubans and fellow asylum seekers to gain admission to the U.S. and the economy on their island deteriorates, places like Little Habana provide not only a taste of home but a respite from the inhospitable treatment they otherwise receive outside the restaurant walls. 

The Border Patrol Has Instilled Fear In Much Of The Latino Community So Why Are So Many Latinos A Part Of The Group?

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The Border Patrol Has Instilled Fear In Much Of The Latino Community So Why Are So Many Latinos A Part Of The Group?

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Recent reports establish that about 51 percent of Border Patrol personnel is of Latino heritage, which has sparked a debate that encompasses issues such as cultural representation, ethnic self-hate and worse. However, whatever side people might be on (understanding or blaming the Latino agents), one thing is certain: things are a bit more complicated than a simple good guys versus bad guys narrative. There are multiple social, historical and financial matters that come into the equation. So let’s explore this issue a bit more in-depth. 

You might have heard of the private Facebook groups in which Border Patrol mocked migrants.

Credit: @votolatino / Twitter

As reported by Scroll.in: “Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings.” Well, it turns out that many of them, just like the so-called ICE bae, were of Latino origin. This might have surprised some, but there are reasons behind this. 

Donald Trump made headlines by showcasing a Latino CBP agent and his “perfect English,” which brought the existence of Latino agents into mainstream political discussion. This event revealed a deeper cultural truth…

Credit: @robforusa / Twitter

Oh, POTUS, he can’t help himself, can he? 

What Trump revealed: some gringos see “Latinos” as a homogeneous group of people. Basically, this is how non-Latinos tend to see Latinos:

Credit: Giphy

Hollywood and media representations have long grouped Latinos into a single siesta-loving, sexy, drinking bunch. This is called racial profiling and it is alive and well.

In fact, Latinos are a very diverse group.

Credit: News Taco

Latinos have long been part of the U.S. social structure. Latinos have been in what is now the U.S. for centuries. And Latinos come to the U.S. for many reasons, and sometimes these reasons are political. Many Cuban exiles, for example, escaped the Castro regime and established themselves in Florida. Latinos tend to vote Republican because that is the party that generally has a hard line against the Cuban government. In the case of Mexicans, a majority flees violence and poverty in their country by crossing the border as undocumented migrants. But many others are wealthy and establish in cities like San Antonio by investing in new businesses. Grouping a growing and diverse section of the United States population under the umbrella term “Latino” is mistake, and perhaps the reason why Democrats are generally surprised when “Latinos” vote for candidates such as Donald Trump (sadly, he represents the agenda and views of many). In fact, the Pew Research Center discovered that 21% of Millennial Latino voters described their political views as conservative, 38% as moderate, and 37% as liberal.

Some used the fact that Latinos make up a considerable fraction of Border Patrol law enforcement to diminish the abuses committed at the border and at detention facilities.

Credit: @nthonylanger / Twitter

This, of course, leads to simplistic interpretations of the border crisis, such as Anthony’s here.

And government officials se lavan las manos stating that there can be no abuse if Latinos are enforcing immigration laws.

Credit: @cnsnews / Twitter

But, again, things are much more complicated than this. Does he even know that the percentage of Border Patrol agents that are Latino is really a reflection of the demographic composition of border towns? If you have a large Latino population in any locality, it is only logical that your workforce will have a strong component from that particular ethnic group. 

Some Latinos on Twitter are enraged and take a black and white perspective that also lacks nuance.

Credit: @GuillermoX15 / Twitter

We understand the anger, but this kind of simplistic interpretation of reality is what got us in the political and discursive mess we are into right now.

Some voices on Twitter are more conciliatory and this is a political discussion this country needs.

Credit: @oakleyw10 / Twitter

Political extremism is born out of ignorance and half-truths. We like the position taken by this Twitter user, who questions some basic assumptions about Border Patrol agents of Latino origin: they are not all Republican supporters and we cannot just do what far-right dudes and just isolate these agents. There are many more factors we have to consider: they do not work in Border Patrol because they hate their own.  

But as a recent article on Patheos pointed out: a job is a job, and Border Patrol officials need the money.

Credit: @OliverDonuts / Twitter

This post on Patheos echoed an op-ed written by scholar David Cortez on USA Today. Cortez argues that one of the reasons Latinos work for immigration enforcement is plain old money: “Although Hispanics make up 39% of the Texas population, they make up 51% of the population living in poverty… Thus, the decision to apply for and accept a Customs and Border Protection job that offers a starting salary of nearly $56,000 a year and generous benefits is not a complicated one”. Cortez was interviewed by Lulu Garcia-Navarro or NPR, and he explained further: “Well – so these agents actually do, from my experience, from my research, find themselves connected with the people that they encounter. But for many of them, this job is not necessarily about stopping immigration. This isn’t about their dedication to immigration law or their dedication to keeping migrants from crossing the border illicitly or anything like that. This is about economic self-interest. This is about survival”. 

Latino Border Patrol agents face ethical questions, but they don’t want to jeopardize their jobs or their family’s financial stability.

Credit: USA Today

In this op-ed by Cortez, interviewees said: 

“One agent I interviewed, for instance, acknowledged the connection between himself and the migrants he encounters as fellow Latinos, and explained that he felt bad, at times, working in immigration, but that he had to provide for his family. Switching to Spanish for emphasis, he stressed that this was the job he had chosen, so he had to do it.

Another agent offered a similar refrain. While he admitted to an inherent contradiction between who he was as a Latino and what he did as an immigration agent, he was unambiguous about what mattered most. Despite any misgivings he might have about the job, he said he would never do anything to put it in jeopardy because his family came first.”

Here we can see how a core Latino value, putting family first, above anything else, comes face-to-face with the contradictions of being a Latino Border Patrol agent. As these interviews point out, the decision is not that simple.

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