June 15, 2001

The Public Forum ... El Foro Publico

INS intimidates local student

I've been meaning to write for a while regarding an incident at the San Ysidro checkpoint on 5 de mayo. An incident that the INS has not resolved to my satisfaction, nor have they alerted me of any action taken or not taken.

I'm a third year law student at one of our local law schools, and on 5 de mayo I along with some of our alumni, and other law students went to Tijuana to fiesta for a little while. Upon returning we walked through the San Ysidro checkpoint at aprox. 4am... I was the only Hispanic among the 7 of us who were returning after a night of dancing and cocktails.

I was detained by the INS for aproximatley 4 1/2 hours (in a cell) while they investigated my citizenship status. I was subjected to insults and derogatory words, and they mocked me for being a law student in such a predicament. All of this intimidation by threats and detaining me longer and possible criminal prosecution simply because I said "Cuidadano Estadodinense" and refused to provide fingerprints when they had my name, SSN Card, wallet, credit cards, CA ID, law school ID, and Veterans ID card for medical care. I believed that with all that information there was no need to provide fingerprints.

Because I challenged their authority in front of other detainees, I was handcuffed and placed in a cell... this was told me by one of the INS officers at the final interview.

The same officer then said I allegedly refused to give my name... how could that be, if they had my wallet w/all identifying information? I then attempted to explain to this officer that the only name I didn't give was my mother's last name, and that was because of the way they had asked for it. The previous officer asked me for my second last name to which I replied I didn't have one. He then replied that all Hispanics had last two last names (this officer was also Hispanic and had also graduated from my same law school.) At this I became upset. The exit interview officer then replied that my word means nothing to him and he would take the word of his co-workers over mine anytime.

Throughout the entire time I was detained, I was subjected to insults and mocking not only by INS officers, but also by the security guards hired. In fact, it was these security guards who threatened me with further detention if I didn't shut up and do as I was told.

In the end I was released, but I was very bitter about the whole experience... if they treat a US citizen, and an armed forces veteran, with such disrespect I can only imagine how they treat others.

Now this part is what irks me the most... after all that I went through, I was escorted down to the gates again and went directly to seek a complaint form... they wouldn't give me one, unless I told my story first to a supervisor, (to ensure they gave me the proper form.) It took them 1/2 an hour to find a complaint form... I'm sure they were hoping for me to get tired of waiting and leave, but I was much more resolute than they had expected. Additionally INS had lost my keys and couldn't find them (costing $80.00 to replace)...which req'd me to get a tort claim which I requested and again it took them another 30 minutes to find the form.... what's up with that!!

The problem I see with such abuses by INS and their counterparts that act with impunity is that they easily trample on the rights of the people they're supposed to serve...and such officers with chips on their shoulders should be removed from such positions of authority

German Dario de la Cruz
President La Raza law students Assoc.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Latina seeks assistance

It has come to my attention that one of our committee members is in desperate need of some financial assistance. This Young Latina is only 19 years old. She is well known for her hard work and dedication as a Government Employee. Her hours of employment are part-time, 20 hours per week. She has no health insurance because she does not qualify under the student aid program. And, it is too expensive to pay on her own. She also attends school full-time to further her education in Business Administration.

This young Latina's mother has been ill for some time and finally had to undergo major surgery about 2 weeks ago. After the surgery, there were complications and the mother had to remain in the hospital.

Because the mother had no health insurance, the hospital would not release the mother from the hospital until the amount was paid in full. Now, this young Latina has incurred all this debt and bills that need to be paid. The family has had to move to Tijuana where the rent is cheaper.

The 19 year old Latina is now the head of household with a GS-2, part-time paycheck. She also cares for her two younger brothers ages 10 and 14. They both attend school in Tijuana.

I am asking that we come together to help this young lady and assist her through this difficult time.

In respect of the person's privacy, I have volunteered to be the point of contact if you wish to make any contributions to the family. Also, if you have any phone numbers to resources out in the community, this info would be helpful as well.

Maria E. Islas
President, SUPSHIP Hispanic American Heritage Association
(619) 556-3557

BluePrint story goes worldwide

I sent the La Prensa San Diego web link on your article ("Parents and Teachers Unite..." June 8, 2001) to our friend Jimmy K., the editor at EducationNews.org. He posted the link on today's (6.12.01) news summary for his national audience.

Jeff Lee
Alliance for Quality Education

Protect the laws that protect our families

Every day in this country, an average of 3 women and 3 children are murdered, 1000 people are sexually assaulted, and over 10,000 women are severely abused as a result of family violence.

In October, 2000, Congress, by an overwhelming majority, responded to this epidemic of family violence by reauthorizing the Violence Against Wo-men Act - authorizing spending $677 million per year, for each of the next 5 years on domestic violence and sexual assault programs, hotlines, shelters and services nationwide.

Unfortunately, President Bush's budget request for 2002 falls almost $100 million short of the authorized $677 million spending levels. While Bush's budget is notably strong in requests for criminal justice system funding for VAWA, his budget requests for life-saving domestic violence shelter programs is $58 million less than the authorized spending level.

His request for rape prevention and education programs is $35 million below authorized spending levels, and his budget does not request any funds at all for transitional housing for families leaving domestic violence shelters.

VAWA is an essential piece of legislation. VAWA programs have been effective at protecting victims and at holding offenders accountable; indeed, domestic violence murder rates have declined since VAWA's implementation in 1995. But VAWA is meaningless to the family that is turned away from a domestic violence shelter because it is full and lacks the funds to assist them. It is meaningless to the young woman who is raped in a community where rape-hotline services don't exist. And, it is meaningless to the women and children everywhere who must return to their abusers or live on the streets because there is nowhere to go after their stay at the shelter is over.

Please visit http://www.stopfamilyviolence.org to send a free, pre-written message to our legislators, urging them to provide FULL FUNDING for VAWA programs in the 2002 budget appropriations. Let then know that keeping our families safe is a spending priority!

Alice Anderson
San Diego

Response to Villaraigosa editorial

In your opinion page article of June 8 about Villaraigosas' loss and people of color, it is of supreme importance to people of color that the concepts of the rainbow coalition be our watchword.

"Rainbow" means all color working together - and that struggle is more class.

We saw the rainbow concept succeed during the "LA Bus Drivers Strike". The drivers were mostly African American and the riders were mostly Mexican American who couldn't get to their work. Jessie Jackson came in and settled that mess. Could he have helped Villaraigosa?

We must work to elect Villaraigosa next time - and convince other minorities that we are in the same goat together - pro-affirmative action, better housing, transportation, increasing minimum wage, etc. Our motto, "con esfuerto y esperanza todo se alcanza."

J.H. Wenger

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