Friday, June 23, 2017

The Sad Truth: Trump’s Vision of the Border is Winning

I’ve said this many times before but most of you didn’t believe me, so maybe now you will. We often disagree with out friends the most fervently on issues and this is one of those occasions. As much respect and admiration as I have for County Judge Veronica Escobar and Sheriff Wiles, I completely disagree with their recent action, or should I say inaction,  at Commissioner's Court. 

This is a long post, but stick with me because there is a lot I'll be revealing that I think people may have missed. And there'll be a few parts to this conversation, so walk with me...

I spent the last few days thinking about the events over the past two weeks, and as much as I hate to admit it, Trump’s vision of the border is winning, and our local leaders and advocates who are supposed to be on the frontlines of the “resistance” have let Trump define who we are.

And sadly, we’ve had some pretty Trumpian policies in place like the detention of undocumented immigrations before he was even a candidate. 

After Commissioner Perez dropped a bombshell of data regarding federal inmates in the County jail, local leaders and many so-called “advocates” demonstrated why Trump and other frequent border bashers like Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick are successfully defining the border region and winning the overall narrative that the border is a place that needs to be secured. While they all united in their negative border rhetoric, our border leaders are all over the place, and they’re sending mixed messages about the values we stand for.

Last week, was one of the most bizarre weeks in recent memory. It started when Border Network for Human Rights sent out a press release opposing Commissioner’s Perez’s agenda item to stop housing federal inmates in the county jail. Despite the fact that the vast majority are being detained for federal immigration charges. You can read their statement here

One of the most bizarre lines of all reads:

“Not keeping Federal detainees in the County Jail will make the logistics of prosecuting immigration violations more expensive and time consuming for the Federal Government.”

(Seriously, they said that. I’m not making that up)

The same group that’s leads almost weekly protests, marches, and rallies on SB4, know your rights campaigns, and any other immigration injustice publicly stated that it’s somehow better that immigrants are jailed at the County because it’ll make things more difficult for the federal government?!?!?! 

Seriously yo, who the hell cares if it makes it more difficult and time consuming for Trump’s administration to prosecute immigration violations? Of all groups, the Border Network for Human Rights!?! ?

Hold on, it gets worse. 

The VERY SAME WEEK, BNHR posted a column on their Facebook page regarding California’s efforts to monitor federal detention facilities and

…wait for it…

…to prohibit all municipalities in the state from entering into contracts with the federal government for immigration detention facilities, including Orange County’s efforts to expand their jail facilities that house immigrants.  The article says the measure will “…get local government out of the business of for-profit immigration detention in California.”

Here's a link to the actual article. Read it, its good stuff. 

The piece also makes an important point that was lost in BNHR’s statement, and County Judge Veronica Escobar’s statements during the item deliberation: 

“While California cannot end immigration detention on its own, California can lead as it has on other issues. The Trump administration may seek to expand immigration detention in states that welcome the imprisonment of people for profit, like Texas that recently tried to issue licenses for family immigration detention centers under lowered standards…We will not permit the Trump administration to expand its detention regime in the state of California or operate with impunity behind locked doors. We hope this bill inspires other states to take our lead.”

It was so inspiring to BNHR that they wrote: “Congratulation’s California!!! Who is next?”

(No, I’m not making that up either.)

This shows that BNHR either didn’t know what Commissioner Perez’s agenda item was about (and frankly I don’t think they even wrote the statement in the first place and was simply used to provide air cover for County Judge Escobar to kick the federal inmate contract issue down the road before she resigns to run for Congress). 

Or, equally worse, they don’t know what the hell’s going on.

But, hey, BNHR was at City Hall on Juneteenth calling on city leaders to take action on SB4 right? They’re also hosting their annual “Hugs Not Walls” this weekend, which I have no doubt local leaders of the “resistance” will be there in full force for photo ops. Which brings me to my next point why Trump’s vision of the border is winning.

Standing Against SB4: You Memmur, Memmur?

BNHR gave the County a standing ovation when they decided to sue the state over SB4 on May 15th. Seriously, don’t take my word for it, go check the video on the County website. They waved their anti-SB4 signs and gave media interviews, and they were happy.

The County filed suit against the state one week later on May 22. You can read that lawsuit here.

On June 5th, the same federal judge that will soon hear the county’s lawsuit against the state ruled that Bexar County’s violated the constitutional rights of a Mexican citizen, Julio Trujillo Santoyo, after he was kept in jail on an ICE detainer even though the criminal charges he was facing were dismissed. 

In fact, he was kept in jail for more than two months.

The lawyer for Trujillo Santoyo who sued Bexar County told the local paper:

“I think every county in the state that has a jail and is honoring ICE detainers should read this case very closely, because they’re on notice of the legality of (honoring detainers) and they could be sued and have to pay damages for it,” said San Antonio immigration attorney Lance Curtright, who’s representing plaintiff Julio Trujillo Santoyo in the case.

Okay by now this might be getting a little boring to some of you, so let me explain just exactly what the hell an ICE detainer even is. Once someone is booked into the county jail, the Sheriff shares that information with ICE. ICE goes through the inmates booked in jail and can ask the Sheriff to “hold” or not release that individual pending the outcome of the state charge they are in jail for. Even if that person is found not guilty (like Trujillo Santoyo) they remain in jail and ICE has 48 hours to pick them up. A person who has an ICE hold also isn’t eligible to bond out of jail. 

So what Trujillo Santoyo's lawyer is saying is that since the counties know that there are constitutional issues with ICE detainers, they could be sued for the practice

Guess who pays the damages? 

You do.

El Paso has a large number of immigration inmates in the State of Texas. That should scare the holy champurado out tax payers. 

Guess which Sheriff in the Texas Mountain Time Zone permits ICE detainers?

In January, Sheriff Wiles sent a letter to Governor Abbott that he will comply with ICE detainers. He told KVIA:

"When we somebody in our jail that clears of state charges, and ICE determines that they are of danger to our community, and they want to deport them. We honor those holds, and I intend to continue to do that."    

Guess which County Judge in the Texas Mountain Time Zone agreed kinda agrees with Wiles?  

You guessed it:

"So far the governor's office is not asking the Sheriff to do something that he isn't doing. So he felt comfortable signing the letter," Escobar said. "Could that change in the future? It could, could there be greater demands placed on local law enforcement? There could...I'm hoping that this is the extent of it."

One of the problems with SB4 is that it FORCES the Sheriff to comply with ICE detainers. Right now he just wants to, but once this goes into affect, he won't even have the choice anymore. County Sheriffs aren’t even given discretion to make their own call about what is right for their own community. That’s problematic for several reasons, and the County takes issue with the state’s ability to force the Sheriff do so.

BUT the County’s lawsuit filed on May 22 (see the link above), DOES NOT challenge the constitutionality of ICE holds! 

Reread that. 

Even though there has already been a ruling by a judge on the constitutionality of the ICE detainers, our lawsuit that every one was all happy about, doesn't even challenge the constitutionality of the ICE detainers. It takes issues with the Sheriff being forced to comply them. In fact, it even makes reference to testimony that speaks to how frequently local jurisdictions comply with holds:

“There was testimony in committee that local jurisdictions in Texas comply with 99% of ICE detainers. Texas has been rated the best state nationwide for adhering to ICE detainers.”

But the judge who ruled against Bexar county essentially stated that having a blanket policy to honor all requests by ICE make it “inevitable that it would engage in warrantless detention.”

The judge was pretty clear when he said, "the County's assumption that probable cause must exist to detain any individual for whom it receives an ICE detainer request was unreasonable. The County’s routine detention of those individuals made it inevitable that it would lead to warrantless detention of people who were not suspected of any criminal offense, but who became the subjects of ICE detainer requests - either because they fell within a non-criminal PEP enforcement priority or because a detainer request was lodged despite their non-priority status." 

In other words, the County's practice was to basically not worry about constitutional violations that would inevitably arise.

This is where I feel like Escobar and other leaders can, and should, be doing more. It drives me nuts that almost no elected officials ever show up to rallies or protests. But showing up isn’t enough when you have the ball (no pun intended) in your Court and instead of righting a moral wrong, you kick the can down the road. 


We give the appearance of fighting against the administration, but in reality we really aren’t doing all that would could be. 

Hell even the Congressman has done this. 

And recently!

I caught this the other day. Congressman O’Rourke tweeted this:

But apparently in the Congressman’s rush to praise Trump (of all people) he missed the part in the article that says this:

So what exactly is it that Beto is praising?

Thats what I mean by even our strongest border advocates not giving a clear message. He says that Trump made the right decision, but in reality there has been no real long-term decision made and if anything, it signals the opposite. It signals MORE enforcement is headed toward non-criminal undocumented immigrants. 

The Times was right on-point with their editorial during the mayoral election about the mayoral candidates needing to be border advocates. If it was important in the mayoral election, its going to be that much MORE important during the next round of elections. 

But hey, thats just a tweet right?

Okay, how about a real-world example of mixed messages.  

Turns out Border Network might want to consider taking that protest down Kansas over to the County Building. 

So the County decided to sue the state over the implementation of SB4. But anyone who knows anything about comprehensive immigration reform knows that ICE detainers is and important issue. It forces law enforcement to be defecto ICE agents.

What we aren’t doing, and this is really important and appears to have been missed by local media, is doing what other communities are doing - challenging the constitutionality of the ICE detainers to begin with. 

The Texas Standard did a story on it just earlier this week. The story mentioned a lot of interesting things, including that county leaders in Bexar County say their county is losing money on incarcerating undocumented immigrants because…wait for it…the feds don’t reimburse them enough! But like I said, that will be covered in another post. 

In essence, we are just going through the motions. We aren't’ really taking on the REAL legal issue of SB4. 

We should be asking why. 

Organizations that are voices for the immigrant community have a unique responsibility to hold elected officials accountable and should be the main group pressing that important issue. 

And frankly, El Paso is ground-zero for this kind of crap and other communities are having to step up to do what El Paso County apparently won’t do, which is take on the constitutionality argument of ICE Detainers. 

You memmur awhile back our fearless county leaders held a press conference about ICE going into a courtroom and detaining a transgender woman Irvin Gonzalez? 

You don’t memmur? Come on, there was a big photo op and everything. You memmur!

Well that case demonstrates the problem with ICE Detainers and it also underscores how Sheriff Wiles, who has been awarded by immigrant rights groups, isn’t fighting ICE Detainers but rather advocates for them in some circumstances. 

Irvin Gonzalez and her partner Mario De Alva were both charged with the same crime, forgery of a financial document. Gonzalez was arrested while she was in court trying to get a protective order against De Alva - for her own protection from him. ICE agents picked her up in the courthouse. 

Well guess what? She is still sitting in County Jail on an ICE hold.

Her alleged abuser - charged with the exact same thing but doesn’t have an immigration issue? Oh he’s out of jail. He’s a free man. He bonded out on March 9th.

Where’s that press conference?

Does that sound like a just system to you?

It doesn't to me. And when we had the chance to do something about it in our own back yard, we didn't. 


Anonymous said...

YES!! Build that wall. Illegal is illegal......Not ALL El Pasoans feel like you do. Everyone I know is a pro-Trumper and want to take this country back. Many are hispanics.

Anonymous said...

Just deport him. His lover might be out on bond but he's sitting in a cell getting three meals a day and his tranny pills on OUR dime. Get his freak ass outta here.

Anonymous said...

Well if Escobar is for rounding up immigrants and filling our jails with them then she just jumped up in my book. Hell I may vote for her now.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog topic, covered key points that highlight the chameleon effect.

Sheriff Wiles wasn't forced to do anything. He simply complied with the law because it's the law and he knows who provides the cash the jail needs.

Escobar and the rest have just revealed who they are. These actions and statements just proved that they are using the Hispanics for votes. Something el pasoans refuse to believe. They are also trying to appeal to the votes that support the Border Wall.

If the people can't see the truth now they either are in denial or just plain stupid.

The real vendidos have taken off the mask and shown they're bed hoppers.

Carl M Starr said...

DOJ made entry in SB4 suit and Fed Judge Garcia now may be holding some rulings in abate until Fed Judge Sparks rules on Jursidiction in Austin the 29th, at least that how read to me. Paxton's reply to Injuction request seems to suggest El Paso County may be "grandfathered" if you will, being as the settlement predates SB4...heres the clip from Paxtons motion:

"The Legislature was satisfied that, because SB4 does not require the El Paso County Sheriff to adopt a new policy compelling deputies to ask about immigration status, SB4 does not compel an activity that the settlement agreement precludes. Of course, deputies there may still be unable to ask about immigration status under the terms of the settlement, but that is not a policy adopted by the sheriff. See ECF No. 56-4 (Rodriguez Decl.) at Exh. 4 (settlement); H.J. of Tex., 85th Leg., R.S., S109 (2017) (reflecting Representative Geren’s satisfaction that SB4 would not require violation of the settlement agreement). Case 5:17-cv-00404-OLG Document 91 Filed 06/23/17 Page 92 of 116"

The reference being policy adopted by the county and 'forced' on the sheriff, i assume, nevertheless Paxton concedes El Paso deputies cannot enforce immigration law [in the field] due to the settlement.