Things That Matter

A City Claims A Family Can’t Sue Over A Wrongful Death Because Undocumented People Don’t Have Rights Under Constitution

The original wording of the Fourth Amendment in the Constitution stated, that “‘each man’s home is his castle,’ secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government. It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law.” A revised version states, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In other words, authorities cannot probe into people’s private information, home or belongings, without probable cause. Those laws apply to everyone, right? That’s not what some officials in one city in the United States believe. They’re claiming those laws do not apply to undocumented immigrants. 

In 2017, police were called to check on a domestic abuse suspect in Southaven, Mississippi. They went to the wrong house and shot and killed Ismael Lopez. 

Credit: Local 24 Memphis / YouTube

On a late Sunday evening, in July of 2017, police were called to serve a warrant for the arrest of a suspected domestic abuser named Samuel Pearman. His address was 5878 Surrey Lane, CNN reported, and police ended up going to a mobile home across the street where Ismael Lopez lived with his wife. Police entered Lopez’s home and ended up shooting him in the back of the head. He died on the scene. 

“It is so troubling to learn that not only this man died but that this man died running away from people who were trespassing on his premises after he was in bed lawfully,” Murray Wells, an attorney representing the Lopez’s family, told reporters, according to CNN

The Lopez family filed a $20 million lawsuit for his death after a jury failed to indict the police officers on the scene. The City of Southaven fired back with their own lawsuit saying Lopez has no rights under the constitution because he was an undocumented immigrant.

Credit: Local 24 Memphis / YouTube

This case is like most cases involving the police, the investigation had conflicting reports. Lopez’s wife claims the police came in unannounced, and the lawyer says bullet holes outside of the home support her story. The police say that Lopez pointed a gun at them. However, Lopez’s wife said that wasn’t the case. The police also shot and killed their dog. City attorneys are also questioning the credibility of Lopez’s widow, with claims they were never married, and that she was married to multiple men. Lopez’s attorney showed the documents to prove they were legally married in 2003. 

“It’s a real shame that they have to use these tactics to soil someone’s name when she lost her partner, the love of her life, in a tragic accident,” attorney Aaron Neglia said according to the Washington Post

So, does the constitution protect undocumented immigrants? The answer is a resounding yes even though the matter is still taken up in courts all the time.

Credit: Local 24 Memphis / YouTube

“Yes, without question,” Cristina Rodriguez, a professor at Yale Law School told PBS. “Most of the provisions of the Constitution apply on the basis of personhood and jurisdiction in the United States.”

Undocumented immigrants have the right to legal counsel, under the Sixth Amendment, they also have the right to due process under the Fifth Amendment. So, if the courts are already practicing the law under the constitution when it applies to undocumented immigrants, then the Fourth Amendment and all of them for that matter apply to them as well. 

Southaven attorneys have a different point of view. According to the Washington Post, attorney Katherine S. Kerby wrote, “If he ever had Fourth Amendment or Fourteenth Amendment civil rights, they were lost by his own conduct and misconduct. Ismael Lopez may have been a person on American soil but he was not one of the ‘We, the People of the United States’ entitled to the civil rights invoked in this lawsuit.”

We shall see how this case plays out in court.

Watch the full news report below.

READ: Advocacy Groups Suing ICE For Mass Raid In Tennessee, Claiming They Violated Workers’ Constitutional Rights

After Spending His Life in Foster Care, 4 Year Old Noah Cuatro Was Returned To His Parents, Where He Died Shortly After

Things That Matter

After Spending His Life in Foster Care, 4 Year Old Noah Cuatro Was Returned To His Parents, Where He Died Shortly After

On July 5th of this year, a 4-year-old boy named Noah Cuatro was found dead by first res ponders in the pool of the apartment complex he was living in. His parents Jose Cuatro Jr. and Ursula Elaine Juarez, insisted that they had found his body already lifeless, floating in the pool. The couple claimed he had drowned. But the police were immediately on alert to the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. Authorities quickly suspected foul play in the 4-year-old’s death. 

On Thursday morning, law enforcement officials arrested both Cuatro Jr. and Juarez, charging them with the murder of their son.

As soon as Noah’s body was taken to the hospital the parents’ supposed cause of death and the reality of his injuries were inconsistent. Although his parents claimed Noah died by drowning, his injuries were inconsistent with that claim. What’s more, the hospital staff  “observed evidence of injuries to Victim Noah Cuatro’s body” that were consistent with signs of abuse. All of the coinciding evidence made it more likely that his death was not a straight-forward accident. 

In late September, the death was officially ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Two days later, Cuatro Jr. and Juarez were arrested. According to officials, the parents are being charged with a litany of crimes: murder, torture, assault on a child causing death, and child abuse resulting in death. Cuatro Jr. and Juarez are being held on $3 million bail each. If they are convicted Cuatro and Juarez might be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison, or a minimum of 32 years. 

Before he died, Noah spent his short life being shuttled between the care of his parents, the foster system, and his great-grandmother. 

Social workers were involved in Noah’s life from birth. He was first removed from the custody of his parents in 2014 and placed in foster care. Later in the year, his great-grandmother, Eva Hernandez, was given temporary custody of him. Although he spent much of his life in Hernandez’s care, Noah also bounced between the foster system, his parents, and his great-grandmother’s care throughout his life. In 2018, he was, for one final time, given back to his biological parents, although the reason for his most recent removal was due to “medical neglect”. 

According to his grandmother, Noah had been vocal about his fear of returning to his parents’ house. “I just wish [the Department of Child and Family Services] would have listened to him,” Hernandez told reporters in July. “He did say, ‘Please don’t do this, don’t send me back.'” But according to Hernandez, Noah refused to tell her about any abuse that was happening at his parents’ home. “He would not say,” said Hernandez. “He did tell me one time that they used to make his older brother punch him, hit him.”

Four-year-old Noah’s death seems all the more tragic because, according to reports, it may have been preventable. 

As the story has developed, the story has illuminated the failures of the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) to protect Noah. Evidence suggests that the DCFS were directed by courts to investigate anonymous claims that Noah was being sexually abused in May–mere weeks before his death. If this were the case, the department legally had 72 hours to conduct a forensic examination of Noah. According to Eva Hernandez’s attorney, Brian Claypool, the department failed to do so. 

According to Claypool, if the examination had taken place, sexual abuse “would’ve been confirmed, he would’ve been permanently removed from his home and he would be alive today”. “This little boy should’ve been removed from that house when he was two years old,” Claypool continued. “Let alone waiting until he was four and a half years old and watching him die.” Claypool has announced that he and Hernandez “plan to hold the Department of Children and Family Services accountable” for what they perceive as neglect. As for Los Angeles DCFS, they have recently issued an apology for the failure of their “safety net”.

As for the public, they are struggling to come to terms with the senseless and tragic death of a child that looks as if it could’ve been prevented.

There should be iron-clad safe guards against children losing their lives to abusive parents. 

Many people are disappointed in what they see as institutional shortcomings of child welfare systems.

Because children are so defenseless, it’s up to others to protect them from harm. That responsibility should not be taken lightly. 

This person believes that just because someone is a biological parent, doesn’t mean they are emotionally prepared to raise a child:

All in all, it seems like another senseless tragedy has taken another young life much too soon. 

 

NYC Is Getting Ready To Fine People $250K For Using Anti-Immigrant Language

Things That Matter

NYC Is Getting Ready To Fine People $250K For Using Anti-Immigrant Language

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For the past 250 years, the United States has used an offensive term to describe foreigners as aliens. It’s a term that dates back to 1765 and was first documented to be used by an English jurist and politician named William Blackstone. According to Foreign Policy, Blackstone wrote in “Commentaries on the Laws of England” that “aliens” — “derived from the Latin term alienus, meaning ‘foreigner’ or ‘outsider’ — as people born outside the king’s ‘dominions,’ or territory over which the monarch rules (including the land that later became the United States).” However, in our modern language, the term “alien” has always been used typically to describe an extraterrestrial, a creature from outer space. So, it makes sense that a word to describe creatures from outer space and foreigners is seen as substantially different and also offensively wrong.

The City of New York has had enough with people using the term “illegal aliens” when describing undocumented immigrants so now they will fine people $250,000 if they use it.

Credit: @nypost / Twitter

On Sept. 26, the NYC Commission on Human Rights announced they are going to great lengths to stop people from spreading hate in the city, and if people violate the city’s mandates they will pay a hefty fee. One of the new rules includes the use of the words “illegal aliens.” 

“The guidance states that the use of the term ‘illegal alien, among others, when used with intent to demean, humiliate, or harass a person, is illegal under the law,” the NYC Commission on Human Rights said in a press release

While the government continues to use the term “illegal alien,” especially the Trump Administration, it’s been widely known that using that term to describe undocumented immigrants is offensive. Some have also connected it to hate speech. Several news organizations have said they would stop using that term and instead use the correct wording, “undocumented immigrants,” especially because immigration advocates, say “no human is illegal.”

There’s more! The city of New York is also making it illegal to threaten to call ICE on anyone.

Credit: @nycgov / Twitter

We’ve seen time and time again, people threatening others that they would call ICE on them as a way to intimidate, harass, and exude power over someone. New York City is saying that no longer will be allowed. 

“The New York City Human Rights Law is one of the most protective in the nation,” Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, said in a press release. “It protects everyone, regardless of their immigration status. In the face of increasingly hostile national rhetoric, we will do everything in our power to make sure our treasured immigrant communities are able to live with dignity and respect, free of harassment and bias. Today’s guidance makes abundantly clear that there is no room for discrimination in NYC.”

Last but not least, the City of New York is also banning people from telling others they can’t speak Spanish. If anyone harasses someone and tells them to stop speaking Spanish, they will have to pay $250,000.

While New York City is perhaps one of the most diverse and liberal cities in the world, there have been several examples of racist people living in NYC. We’ve seen several viral moments on social media that shows racist people telling Spanish-speaking people to speak English instead. That all ends with the city’s new mandates. 

“We are proud to have worked with the NYC Commission on Human Rights to produce and release this important guidance as we combat the federal government’s rhetoric of fear and xenophobic policies that have threatened the health and well-being of immigrant communities,” Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs said. “Harassment and discrimination based on one’s actual or perceived immigration status, national origin, limited English proficiency, or accent will never be tolerated in our City of 3.2 million immigrants.”

So, one more time for the people in the back. If you are caught or reported to have done any of these things in New York City, you could be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Credit: @Katrina_HRM / Twitter

Specific violations of immigration status and national origin protections include: 

  • Harassing a restaurant patron because of their accent.
  • Refusing repairs on a unit occupied by an immigrant family and threatening to call ICE if they complain.  
  • Paying a lower wage or withholding wages to workers because of their immigration status 
  • Harassing a store customer by telling them to stop speaking their language and demanding they speak English.

For more information on the new NYC Human Rights Law, click here.

READ: The New York Attorney Who Went On Rant Against Spanish-Speakers Cowers From Media