When Oscar and Irma Sanchez learned that their 2-month-old child needed urgent, life-saving surgery, they hesitated. Not because it was costly, but because they are undocumented. The Sanchez family knew they would have to drive through a border checkpoint to get their child from a Harlingen, Texas hospital to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, according to NPR. With no other option left to save their child, the Sanchezes, with urging from the hospital staff, made the decision to go to Corpus Christi.
According to a statement from Border Patrol to NPR, a hospital staff member called the Border Patrol and alerted them about a child in need of urgent surgery with undocumented parents that would have to cross a border checkpoint. Soon, Border Patrol agents arrived at the Harlingen hospital and escorted the couple to Driscoll. NPR reports that while waiting for the child to have surgery, the couple was taken to a Border Patrol station to be fingerprinted and booked as part of the detention. The Border Patrol told NPR that they allowed one parent to be with the child while the other was processed. Both parents will face deportation proceedings.
“You feel vulnerable,” Oscar told NPR about how the agents followed he and his wife everywhere they went in the hospital. “We didn’t know if they were going to let us stay with our son or not.”
The Border Patrol praised its agents for helping save a baby’s life.
“CBP was notified by the Harlingen hospital that there was a child with undocumented parents in need of urgent medical care and that the family would have to go through a checkpoint to the Corpus Christi hospital,” Manny Padilla, the chief of the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Border Patrol, told NPR. “To get the child to the care it urgently needed, Border Patrol agents did everything in their power to assist the family, including escorting the ambulance, unimpeded, through the checkpoint.”
A Texas sheriff is eating his words after his bigotted comments came back to bite him in the worst way.
A day after Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn referred to undocumented immigrants as “drunks” who would “run over” children, his own son was reportedly arrested on charges of public intoxication. It has also been revealed that his son Sergei Waybourn has been arrested before. In 2018 he was charged with assault and in recent years he was arrested for trespassing and theft.
Sheriff Waybourn’s comments sparked controversy when he spoke against undocumented immigrants at a press conference in Washington.
Last Thursday, the sheriff spoke at the conference alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence. Speaking in response to a ruling by a federal California judge made last month that imposed restrictions on ICE’s use of “detainers,” Waybourn underlined the consequences of releasing illegal immigrants with DWI and other crimes.
U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr.’s decision barred ICE from using online database searches to find and detain people based. Recently, the ACLU stated that since 2008, 2 million US citizens have been illegally detained because of such searches.
Waybourn pointed to his charge of inmates to give examples of high rates of repeat offenders. “If we have to turn them loose or they get released, they’re coming back to your neighborhood and my neighborhood,” Waybourn said according to New York Post. “These drunks will run over your children, and they will run over my children.”
After his comments, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens called for Waybourn’s resignation.
According to Dallas Morning News, Domingo Garcia said Waybourn ought to “resign and apologize for his bigoted comments immediately.”
In response, Waybourne said his comments had been taken out of contexts and his office released a statement saying that “Sheriff Waybourn was not referring to all legal or illegal immigrants when making his comments about DWI/DWI repeat offenders. He was speaking toward the charges of DWI and DWI repeat offender in the context of illegal immigration.”
In response to the news of his son’s arrest, the sheriff said he is “deeply saddened by Sergei’s choices.”
According to WFAA, he said that “It has been many years since he disassociated from our family. We, along with many family members have made efforts over the years to help him – all to no avail. It is always sad when drugs take control of a person’s life. His choices and actions have lead to this situation.”
On July 10, former senior Border Patrol agent Gus Zamora, 51, was arrested in Tuscon for sexually assaulting a junior agent. Zamora’s wife is Gloria Chavez, one of the agency’s highest-ranked female officers. Three weeks after he was indicted by a Pima County grand jury, the agency took the only action it has thus far: it allowed him to retire from the agency three weeks after being arrested. Customs and Border Protection defended its actions by telling The New York Times,it “holds its employees accountable and expects the entire workforce to adhere to the agency’s standards of conduct.”Zamora attended a pretrial hearing at the Arizona Superior Court in Tucson. He pleaded not guilty.
The victim, identified as R.W. in court documents, told police that she looked up to Zamora as a mentor, given their ten-year age difference and his seniority. Over the years, R.W. had ignored some of his advances, asserting her desire to remain friends. The night of the assault, they met up for dinner and Zamora bought her so many tequila shots, video surveillance shows her falling to her knees as Zamora brought her back to his hotel room where he would later sexually assault her.
Before their dinner, Zamora texted her to ask if she “dressed up” for him, according to The New York Times.
According to The New York Times,Zamora bought them five rounds of tequila shots, and at one point, she moved away from him after he placed his hand on her left thigh. The Daily Mail reports that Zamora told investigators that he offered R.W. a ride home, to which she declined, saying she didn’t want to be alone. Zamora alleges that she initiated the sex. However, hotel surveillance footage shows Zamora holding R.W. up. At one point, she fell to her knees, according to police documents obtained by The New York Times.
Those police documents detail how R.W. said she blacked out, only waking up a few times to find herself on the bed. She told police she didn’t feel like she had the capacity to give consent. The rape kit results have not been made public.
A few days later, R.W. reported the crime to the police, who then recorded her follow-up call to Zamora.
Credit: customsborder / Instagram
According to The New York Times, the detective on the case recorded a phone call during which R.W. informed Zamora that the sex was non-consensual. The detective wrote, “he told her to not go there and that it wasn’t like that,” that sex “was never on his mind. They had too many shots,” The New York Times reports. Effectively, Zamora tried to call him out and he just deflected the blame onto both of them.
When Zamora was eventually called in for an interview, a detective told Zamora that R.W. was in no state to offer consent, to which he “said that he knows, but he wasn’t in a state to consent either,” according to The New York Times
Women make up 5 percent of Border Patrol agents.
Credit: customsborder / Instagram
The female agents who do make up the force have voiced their outrage at the agency’s inaction around sexual assault accusations. “There’s not a single woman in the Border Patrol who has either not been sexually assaulted, outright raped or at the very least sexually harassed,” former Border Patrol agent Jenn Budd told The New York Times.Budd’s since become an immigrant rights activist, and urges women to reconsider joining the Border Patrol.
Two days before Zamora allegedly assaulted R.W., Tucson police arrested Border Patrol agent Steven Charles Holmes, 33, for sexually assaulting three women over seven years.
The agency is already under immense criticism for its high rate of arrest charges brought against Border Patrol agents when compared to other law enforcement agencies.
Credit: @CBP / Twitter
In July 2019, Quartz reported that Border Patrol agents are arrested approximately five times as often as other law enforcement groups. With a budget of over $15 billion and over 60,000 employees, it’s the largest law enforcement agency in the United States. Many critics say the agency is not held to account for its unconstitutional means of coercing migrants to sign removal forms written in English, a language they often cannot understand.
A Customs Border Patrol spokesperson told El Paso Times that its Office of Professional Responsibility “will review all the facts uncovered to ensure all allegations of misconduct … are thoroughly investigated for appropriate action by the agency.”