Things That Matter

A Veteran Is Helping A Family From Honduras Seek Asylum By Opening Up Her Home And Sponsoring Them

Everyone has their own unique immigration story. Selena Gomez revealed how her aunt hid in the back of a truck when she first entered the U.S. That journey her family made led to the birth of her father in the U.S. and eventually hers. Everyone has a story about how they became a part of this country, and one thing that continues to ring true with each immigration story is how much hard work it takes to become a citizen. For those that are lucky enough to have a helping hand through that journey, it can make all the difference in the world. 

A stranger heard that an undocumented immigrant family needed a sponsor to help them through their immigration process and stepped up to the plate to help them. 

Credit: @sdut / Twitter

Vonnette Monteith, a veteran living in Louisville, Kentucky, first met a mother from Honduras during a service at  St. Williams Catholic Church last year. According to the Courier-Journal, the mother, who’s in the U.S. as a refugee, spoke up at her church and told the congregation that she needed help. The mother, wife, and refugee from Honduras, said she needed a sponsor so her family could escape a life of violence and be together in the U.S. 

The veteran and former Army lieutenant colonel said she had two spare rooms in her house — and she ended up welcoming eight people.

Credit: @courierjournal / Twitter

“I have a hard time saying no,” Monteith said in an interview with the Courier-Journal. 

While you may assume that having eight new people in your home would be an obstacle, the main issue is that Monteith didn’t speak any Spanish. The eventually learned to communicate with each other via a language app. 

The refugee told Monteith that her family had to flee Honduras after gang members there, allegedly from MS-13, killed her son’s grandmother, apparently “because she interfered with their recruitment efforts.”

The refugee mom told Monteith that her daughter and granddaughter had also fled Honduras and were stuck at the southern border in Mexicali. 

Credit: @SDNewsfeed / Twitter

According to the Courier-Journal, the daughter and granddaughter arrived in Mexicali earlier this year to also seek asylum as her family had last year. However, because of President Donald Trump’s new “remain in Mexico” policy, she could not reach her family. 

“It’s very sad what they are doing to us,” the woman said. “It’s hard to be away from my family. I miss them very much.”

That is when Monteith sprung into action once again. Monteith continued to help this family not just by opening up her home to them, but also by assisting with their legal issues.  

She drove from Kentucky to Mexicali to immigration court to try and get the daughter to reunite with her family.

Credit: @border_now / Twitter

At the court hearing, the judge asked who she was and why she was in court with this woman seeking asylum. 

“I’m Vonnette Monteith,” she said, according to the publication. “I know the family, and I’m here to help.”

In a perfect world that would be the end of the story, and it would have been a good ending too, but under the current administration, it is a whole different story. While having a sponsor can make all the difference in the world as it did for the woman and her family, it wasn’t quite as easy for her daughter. 

Monteith first had to find a lawyer that would represent the young mom in court, and that was a big struggle. 

“The thing that was so disappointing was that out of all of these organizations out there helping immigrants, none of them called me back,” Monteith said in the publication. “I went to LA and walked all over and emailed, and emailed, and emailed. If I, who understands the language and knows how to call and email, can’t get help, how are they getting help?”

Monteith ended up convincing the lawyer that helped the woman gain asylum last year, but because of timing issues, her daughter’s day in court will have to come later this year.

Credit: @RevDrBarber / Twitter

Either way, Monteith has already done so much for this family, and it seems like she will see them through until they are all reunited in the end. Now, if we could only have more people that were willing to help.

READ: This Teen Girl Was Forced To Wait In Mexico Under The ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy And She Nearly Drowned In The Rio Grande

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California Man Arrested With Drugs And Guns While Keeping A Person Hostage And Suspected Of Murder

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California Man Arrested With Drugs And Guns While Keeping A Person Hostage And Suspected Of Murder

Anaheim Police Department / Facebook

The California man accused of murdering Iraq veteran Adrian Bonar was arrested in his home Monday night, during a SWAT raid that yielded several guns, over four pounds of fentanyl and another adult male who “had been kidnapped and was being held against his will,” according to a statement by the Anaheim Police Department. Antonio Silva, 27, is suspected of murdering Army Veteran Adrian Bonar, whose body was found wrapped in a tarp in the trunk of an abandoned Lexus on October 17th off Santa Ana Canyon Road west of Gypsum Canyon. Due to the nature of the crime, the Anaheim Police Department involved a SWAT team to partake in the search warrant of Silva’s home in the 2500 block of Bristol Street in Santa Ana, and for good reason. The search warrant yielded two rifles, two handguns and over four pounds of fentanyl.

Amazingly, we encountered an adult male who had been kidnapped and was being held against his will at Silva’s home,” Anaheim Police said in a statement. “We were able to rescue that victim and likely prevented another murder.”

Antonio Silva has been booked for murder, kidnapping, and false imprisonment along with drug and weapons charges

CREDIT: ANAHEIM POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

Silva reportedly resisted arrest, and police fired 40mm sponge rounds, which are sponge-tipped bullets designed to injure, rather than kill. The investigation remains open and ongoing so the police are not revealing any information about the relationship between Silva, Bonar and the kidnapping victim, who has not been named. Police believe that the kidnapping victim was being held for ransom in Silva’s home for several days. He was sent to the hospital, treated, and kept overnight, but released the following morning.

“Our homicide detectives and virtually every investigative unit in the Anaheim Police Department have been working tirelessly for the past four weeks on this case,” APD Public Information Officer Sgt. Daron Wyatt told Behind the Badge. “(It was) outstanding work from our investigators. They worked it from the ground up.”

Adrian Bonar’s body was found when Anaheim Police began towing the Lexus his body was hidden in.

CREDIT: ANAHEIM POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

The tow truck driver thought something was unusual about the car. Bonar was the son of millionaire restaurant owner Dr. Brian Bonar. He was born in Scotland, but later moved to San Diego and signed up to be of service. “Regardless of what Adrian may have been involved in, he was a victim of this crime,” Wyatt said. “He was an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Army who saw combat in Iraq, and nobody deserves to die in this fashion or be a victim of a murder no matter what they’ve done.”

Adrian Bonar was an alumni brother of mine,” Mark J. Sellinger commented on the Anaheim Police Department’s Facebook post. “He and I, many years removed, attended the same military academy. I have shared the news of the arrest of the suspect in his killing with my academy brothers. On behalf of our brotherhood, we thank the Anaheim Police and all the other agencies who worked to arrest this alleged killer so he can face justice.”

Bonar is survived by his wife, Jackie Franklin, and daughter, Piper.

CREDIT: ANAHEIM POLICE DEPARTMENT / ADRIAN BONAR / FACEBOOK

In a Facebook tribute last month, Bonar’s sister, Pauline Gourdie, called his murderer “evil scum.” “My wee brother, my twin 14 years apart. How I loved you and I know you loved me back,” she wrote. “My heart is breaking, yet bursting with pride that you were my brother. It’s clear you were not only loved by your family but by so many whose life you touched. You were taken too soon but by gawd did you live it…So proud of all that you achieved in your life, cut short by evil scum. May you soar with the eagles in heaven while they squawk in the sewers of hell! Until we meet again. Sleep tight lil bro. Your heartbroken sis, P.”

Silva’s arrest at this exact moment has certainly saved at least one life.

CREDIT: ANAHEIM POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

“It is as legitimate of a kidnapping as you could get,” Sergeant Shane Carringer, a spokesperson for Anaheim Police Department, told Oxygen.com. “He was absolutely confined and unable to leave the location. He was there against his will. His road to recovery, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally, will be pretty extraordinary… We absolutely prevented another murder,” he told the outlet. 

Police are asking anyone with information about this case to call the Anaheim PD hotline at 714-321-3669.

READ: Man Posts Snapchat Photo Of Murdered Victim Saying “I don’t know what to do”

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Latino War Veteran Files $1 Million Lawsuit Against ICE After Being Detained With American Passport In Possession

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Latino War Veteran Files $1 Million Lawsuit Against ICE After Being Detained With American Passport In Possession

wettoast / Instagram

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and lawyers for Jilmar Ramos-Gomez have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The lawsuit claims that the agencies acted in a racist manner when unlawfully detaining Ramos-Gomez, a Latino-American war veteran who had his American passport on his person at the time of his arrest. Last week, Michigan-born Ramos-Gomez won a $190k settlement against the City of Grand Rapids after its City Commission voted unanimously to pay the former marine after Grand Rapids Captain Curt VanderKooi invited an ICE officer to “please check his status.” Ramos-Gomez was then detained in ICE custody for three days, even though police body camera footage shows his American passport in the hands of the law enforcement that transferred him to ICE custody.

The new lawsuit seeks data and policies on all wrongfully detained people and policies and procedures regarding people with mental health issues or disabilities.

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez suffers from PTSD after serving in Afghanistan. 

CREDIT: @CHUCKPFARRER / TWITTER

Ramos-Gomez has received numerous medals for his service, which he served between October 2011 to August 2014 in Afghanistan. Often, Ramos-Gomez will ‘come to’ without having any recollection of what happened. During those PTSD episodes, he acts erratically. In November 2018, Ramos-Gomez allegedly set a small fire at a hospital, pulled a fire alarm and was found on the hospital’s helipad during one of those PTSD episodes. He was promptly arrested and pled guilty to a misdemeanor trespassing charge. Later, off-duty Cpt. VanderKooi saw his face on the local news and emailed an ICE officer, asking him to “please check his status.” When Ramos-Gomez was released from jail, he was transferred into the custody of ICE.

“Jilmar Ramos-Gomez fought and served our country selflessly, yet ICE tried to deport this hometown hero and blatantly disregarded his citizenship, service, and mental health challenges,” said Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan. “Mr. Ramos-Gomez and the public deserve to know why the United States government abused its own citizen and veteran, and how many others have suffered in the same way.”

The ACLU is alleging that ICE detained and tried to deport Ramos-Gomez, even though they had documentation that proved his veteran and citizenship status.

CREDIT: @ALEXHORTONTX / TWITTER

The ACLU obtained body camera footage from the arresting officer that shows Ramos-Gomez’s United States passport in his hands. Later, footage proves that the passport was key in identifying Ramos-Gomez. One officer asked if he had been identified, to which the officer responds, “His passport is down there.” Ramos-Gomez was detained in an ICE detention facility from Dec. 14 to 17 last year. 

“This is flagrant racial discrimination against a United States citizen and decorated combat veteran simply because of the color of his skin,” said Anand Swaminathan, ACLU cooperating attorney and partner at the Chicago law firm Loevy & Loevy. “Ramos-Gomez’s own government ignored his irrefutable proof of citizenship, and cruelly detained him because of his Latinx background.”

What’s worse, Cpt. VanderKooi mocked Ramos-Gomez’s mental illness in an email chain obtained by the ACLU.

CREDIT: ACLU OF MICHIGAN

This wasn’t simply a human error. Cpt. VanderKooi forwarded the email chain to the detective assigned to Ramos-Gomez’s trespassing charge, but changed the subject line to read “Spectrum Helicopter Pad Loco,” according to documents obtained by the ACLU, mocking the veteran’s PTSD as “loco” or “crazy.” “It is not clear what mad intent was involved in this breach of hospital security but here is the report,” Cpt. VanderKooi added in the email. Another police officer forwarded the chain to a prosecutor, who replied, “I am confused. Didn’t his property have a U.S. Passport in it? And he was a veteran?!” The officer simply responded, “Who knows, not sure it was a US passport. … I am not sure about the vet thing.”

The information was there, but it seems the intent to discover the truth was less than the intent to deport this man.

Since ICE tried to deport Ramos-Gomez, he “rarely leaves his home.”

CREDIT: JILMAR RAMOS-GOMEZ / FACEBOOK

According to the ACLU, Ramos-Gomez’s mental health “severely deteriorated” while he was in ICE custody. He and his fellow detainees were “mistreated and ridiculed,” and Ramos-Gomez was hospitalized shortly after his release from custody. It’s been exactly one year to the day since that fateful day Cpt. VanderKooi saw a Latino man’s face on the local news and invited ICE to investigate.  According to the ACLU, Ramos-Gomez “now rarely leaves his home or spends time in his community.”

READ: A Latino Veteran Wins $190K Settlement After Being Detained By ICE While Carrying His US Passport

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