Fresh Hell Friday Reads: What in the name of Humanity and All Living things?Posted: August 16, 2019
Hi Sky Dancers!
I’m a little slow getting started this morning because I was waylaid reading something at ProPublica that was truly shocking and long. Again, I have to say that in this day and age I am no longer surprised by these kinds of things but I can still be shocked by the level of cruelty rampant in our country these days.
This is the story of a Border Agent who used a 4000 pound truck to assault a fleeing migrant. It took awhile to get justice but justice finally has been done. Justice is something I feel like we wait for with baited breath continually because there is so little to be had these days and as it is said “No Justice. No Peace”.
Read this with eyes wide open. It’s gruesome.
Here’s the narrative as written by ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson.
It was late November 2017, and Matthew Bowen, a veteran Border Patrol agent, was seething. A fellow Border Patrol agent in Texas had just been found dead in the field, and Bowen was certain someone who’d been crossing the border illegally was responsible for murdering him.
“Snuffed out by some dirtbag,” Bowen, stationed in Nogales, Arizona, said in a text later obtained by federal authorities.
Bowen, if lacking in evidence, wasn’t alone in his anger and suspicion. President Donald Trump, nearing the end of his first year in office and already frustrated in his bid to construct a wall on the southern border, had promised to “seek out and bring to justice those responsible” for the Texas agent’s death. Brandon Judd, the head of the union that represents Border Patrol agents, declared to Fox News and other media outlets that the Texas agent had been “ambushed.”
Bowen’s work record suggested his distaste for the mix of migrants and drug traffickers crossing the border illegally could be dangerous. He’d been the subject of multiple internal investigations over excessive force during his 10-year career, court records show. In one, he’d been accused of giving a handcuffed suspect what agents called a “rough ride,” slamming the brakes on his all-terrain vehicle in a way that flung the suspect into the ground.
Bowen, though, had stayed on the job. And with the news of the Texas agent’s death, his disgust for illegal border-crossers seemed only to have deepened.
“Mindless murdering savages,” he texted to another agent that November.
Two weeks later, Bowen climbed behind the wheel of a Border Patrol pickup truck and used it to strike a Guatemalan migrant in a dusty parking lot in southern Arizona. Bowen eventually was arrested by federal authorities in May 2018 and charged with using his Ford F-150 pickup, a 4,000-pound vehicle, to menace the man as he tried to flee Bowen and other agents on foot. The truck, according to an affidavit filed by prosecutors in court, hit the man twice and came within inches of running him over. Prosecutors accused Bowen of using “deadly force against a person who was running away from him and posed no threat.”
This doesn’t appear to be a stand alone thing:
From the AP we get this headline today: ” Claim: Migrant children molested in US-funded foster care”. This is Trumpist America and it’s one big bag of crimes against humanity.
After local Guatemalan officials burned down an environmental activist’s home, he decided to leave his village behind and flee to the United States, hoping he’d be granted asylum and his little boy, whose heart was failing, would receive lifesaving medical care.
But after crossing the border into Arizona in May of last year, Border Patrol agents tore the man’s 7-year-old son from his arms and sent the father nearly 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) away to a detention center in Georgia. The boy, now 8, went into a U.S.-funded foster home for migrant children in New York.
The foster care programs are aimed at providing migrant children with care while authorities work to connect them with parents, relatives or other sponsors. But instead the boy told a counselor he was repeatedly sexually molested by other boys in the foster home.
A review of 38 legal claims obtained by The Associated Press — some of which have never been made public — shows taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $200 million in damages from parents who said their children were harmed while in government custody.
The father and son are among dozens of families — separated at the border as part of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy — who are now preparing to sue the federal government, including several who say their young children were sexually, physically or emotionally abused in federally funded foster care.
With more than 3,000 migrant children taken from their parents at the border in recent years, many lawsuits are expected, potentially totaling in the billions. Families who spoke to the AP and FRONTLINE did so on the condition of anonymity over fears about their families’ safety.
“How is it possible that my son was suffering these things?” the father said. “My son is little and couldn’t defend himself.”
The families — some in the U.S., others already deported to Central America — are represented by grassroots immigration clinics and nonprofit groups, along with some of the country’s most powerful law firms. They’re making claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act as a precursor to filing lawsuits. The FTCA allows individuals who suffer harm as a direct result of federal employees to sue the government.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Erik Walsh, an attorney at Arnold & Porter, which has one of the world’s leading pro bono programs.
The firm has so far filed 18 claims on behalf of nine families, totaling $54 million, and Walsh says dozens more are likely coming.
The government has six months to settle FTCA claims from the time they’re filed. After that, the claimants are free to file federal lawsuits.
What kind of country do we live in that a Judge has to order the Justice Department to do this? From NYT: “Migrant Children Are Entitled to Toothbrushes and Soap, Federal Court Rules.”
A federal appeals court panel ruled on Thursday that the government must provide detained migrant children with basic hygiene supplies such as toothbrushes and sleeping mats, ending a debate that incited national outrage after a Justice Department lawyer argued against the need to do so.
The exchange in June between the lawyer and a panel of openly aghast federal judges spread rapidly in the national media. The case grew in significance days later, when a group of lawyers told reporters they had observed distressed migrant children held in cramped, dirty conditions and without sufficient food or clean water at a Border Patrol station in Clint, Tex.
The lawyers said they saw infants being cared for by other detainees, some as young as 7 years old.
Lawmakers sprang into action, decrying the conditions. Hundreds of children were transferred out of the station, which was cleaned up, and the top Border Patrol agentwho oversaw the facility was reassigned before resigning from his job.
“It’s a major victory for children in federal immigration custody,” Elora Mukherjee, one of the lawyers who visited the Clint facility and who has served as an official monitor on the ongoing court case for several years, said of the court’s decision.
Yet, in another court finding we have this via ABC: “Court allows Trump admin asylum restrictions to take place along most of border”.
Reversing the move everywhere outside the 9th Circuit means those who cross the border into California or Arizona will be able to seek asylum, while those entering into New Mexico and Texas will be barred unless they’re from Mexico, according to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a former immigration lawyer and policy analyst at the American Immigration Council.
“If this situation continues, smugglers may encourage more people to cross in California or Arizona instead of New Mexico or Texas,” Reichlin-Melnick said Friday. “This could have very dangerous consequences — Arizona has long been one of the deadliest places to cross the border, and temperatures are extreme now.”
The court said in its decision that “the district court failed to discuss whether a nationwide injunction is necessary to remedy Plaintiff’s alleged harm.”
From Think Progress yesterday, I read about the horrors that are now occurring in my backyard “Immigrants detained during mass ICE raids could be held in abusive Louisiana facility. Over 100 immigrants were pepper-sprayed at Louisiana ICE facilities earlier in August.”
Of the over 600 undocumented immigrants who were arrested in mass workplace raids across Mississippi this week, approximately 400 could be detained at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in Louisiana, BuzzFeed News reported.
One of the facilities where a number of the immigrants reportedly will be detained is the ICE Processing Center in Pine Prairie where the outlet reported earlier this month that 100 immigrants were pepper-sprayed following a peaceful demonstration in the facility’s courtyard.
ICE officials did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation of the plans.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News this week, Bryan Cox, an ICE spokesman, described the pepper spray incident as “brief” and “calculated.” The incident occurred just one day after 30 immigrants were pepper-sprayed at an ICE facility in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, to “deescalate” a “small disturbance around lunchtime.”
According to lawyers for several migrants at the facilities, however, the conditions in the detention centers are far worse than has been reported: The total number of immigrants pepper-sprayed at the Pine Prairie facility was in fact over 100, a legal representative with the Southern Poverty Law Center told The Independent. And a prior NBC Newsreport revealed officers had allegedly detained at least one transgender migrant in isolation for four months, “because of the way [she] looked.”
Others have suffered equally dire fates.
The SPLC reported in April that, in addition to arbitrary solitary confinement, migrants at Pine Prairie were allegedly being held in “deplorable” conditions. Among other things, detainees were forced to consume “barely edible food,” and were kept in “foul” smelling, moldy rooms. Some have been held in the barbed-wire-encircled processing facility for months.
At the Bossier Parish facility, things are no better, migrants say. “There are lots of cops who came from another prison, they beat up the Cubans, they pepper spray them and handcuff them,” one man told attorney Lara Nochomovitz — who represents detained immigrants at the facility — in a text message obtained by Mother Jones earlier this month.
Four States are now taking the Trump administration to court over its new immigration policies severely cutting into aid to immigrants. This piece details California’s efforts via KCRA3. Why do all the worst of his policies impact children the most cruelly?
alifornia and three other states on Friday filed the latest court challenge to new Trump administration rules blocking green cards for many immigrants who use public assistance including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.
Nearly half of Americans would be considered a burden if the same standards were applied to U.S. citizens, said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
The lawsuit he filed in federal court in San Francisco follows others this week including those by Washington and 12 other states and by two California counties. Joining California are Maine, Oregon and Pennsylvania, as well as the District of Columbia.
The multiple lawsuits all contest one of the Republican administration’s most aggressive moves to restrict legal immigration. Spokesmen for the White House and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The new rules set to take effect in October would broaden a range of programs that can disqualify immigrants from legal status if they are deemed to be a burden to the United States – what’s known as a “public charge.”
Becerra said working families across the nation rely on similar safety net programs. The impact is particularly great in California, which has more than 10 million immigrants. Half of the state’s children have an immigrant parent, he said.
His lawsuit argues that the rule creates unnecessary new obstacles for immigrants who want to legally live in the United States. It also discourages them from using health, nutrition, housing and other programs for fear it will erode their chances of being granted lawful status.
Today, I could write about the recession that is almost certainly in process due to Trump’s ignorant trade policies. I could write about what’s going on in Hong Kong or Russia. World chaos is pretty much the course these days. These countries are experiencing pro-democracy protests which are worthy of coverage. We still have the issue of denial of Congress members entrance into Israel because of a tweet by the deranged occupant of the White House. Or, there’s always the horror of another Trumpist Hatefest where he even fat shamed a supporter. Yeah, that guy with that body, fat shamed some one. Unbelievable hmm?
Instead, day in and day out I worry about the health and well being of the most vulnerable to his policies. Immigrant and asylum seeking children deserve our best not our pathological worst treatment.
Have a peaceful weekend. Please be kind to yourself and others. I love you all.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?