ICE Arrests High School Student Hours Before His Senior Prom

First published in:

Just when I thought the Trump Administration couldn’t sink any further, news broke yesterday that 19-year-old Diego Ismael Puma Macancela of Ecuador was arrested by ICE agents just hours before his high school senior prom. The only crime Diego was charged with was being brought to live in Ossining, New York years ago by his mother who had been arrested by ICE the day before. Trump’s ICE Gestapo has once again protected Americans from another “bad hombre” who was guilty of attending high school, dating and hoping to attend his senior prom.

Week after week, reports of noncriminal immigrant arrests are becoming more frequent and normalized. It is now common for ICE agents to suddenly appear in municipal courts to round up noncriminal immigrants. Large cities like San Francisco, Denver, Nashville and Memphis all reported arrests by ICE agents at their court houses. More shockingly though, raids are being conducted in smaller towns like those that occurred on Thursday night in Monterey and Santa Cruz, California.

Now Reuters is reporting that the administration is arresting and deporting immigrants who were given protected status from deportations by the Obama Administration. These immigrants were deemed to be of no threat to the American public and typically came from war torn countries such as El Salvador. Many of these immigrants have children who are U.S. citizens.

Trump previously claimed that noncriminal aliens had nothing to fear from his administration, even going so far as to feign sympathy for those children who were brought here by their parents and were registered under the DACA Program. For these immigrant children, the United States is the only home they’ve ever known. They have never even been to their birth countries. Yet day after day, the Trump Administration is quietly picking them up at their homes, schools and neighborhoods and shipping them back to these unfamiliar countries.

DACA registered immigrants have even more reason to fear ICE since the government has all their information: addresses, schools, churches and relatives. Should they try to move and not report their change of address, they will be violating the law drawing even more attention to themselves.

Of a more curious note is the trend of deportations that involve students who are known immigrant rights activists. Claudia Rueda is but one example of who Trump is targeting and silencing with deportation orders. Rueda has lived in the U.S. since she was 7-years-old and could not register as a DACA immigrant because her family couldn’t afford the nearly $500 fee. This “bad mujer” was studying immigrant rights at Cal State and was an outspoken activist. That was until a month ago when ICE secretly arrested her and detained her more than 130 miles away in San Diego without notifying her family of her whereabouts.

Rueda was released from jail this weekend by immigration judge Annie Garcy who found that her detention without a bond and for such a lengthy time was severe. Trump’s immigration lawyers argued that she should at least have to wear an ankle bracelet monitoring her whereabouts because of her criminal history of protesting in support of immigrant rights. Justice Garcy scoffed at this claim stating, “Really?” and ordered her release.

According to a report that analyzed ICE statistics for the 1st quarter of 2017, only 6% of immigrant arrests under Trump have involved those convicted of violent crimes. The administration claims that upwards of 75% of those arrested had criminal convictions, but as the author pointed out, “criminal” can mean many things. The data does not state what crimes these immigrants are convicted of. They could have been convicted of driving without a license or working without a green card; both of which are not afforded to undocumented immigrants. Overall, ICE arrests are up 38% since Trump took office. Over 10,000 of those arrests were of noncriminal aliens.

If noncriminal immigrants and DACA registered aliens have nothing to fear from Trump, why then do they not release these children and young adults? Why are they not focusing on criminal aliens like they promised they would? As I recall during the election, Trump trotted out those who had family members murdered by criminal aliens and promised to arrest those responsible. I’m old enough to remember his claim of criminal immigrants lurking around every corner just waiting to attack helpless American citizens.

Once again, Trump has lied to the American voter.

The Border Patrol Murdered Anastacio. Justice Now Depends on Trump.

First published on:

Unless you lived in San Diego, California in 2010, you’d be forgiven for not knowing who Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas was. Though his life ended in a Rodney King-ish style of police brutality that usually causes the media to go insane with wall to wall coverage, the national press had little if anything to say about it. Most coverage came two years later in 2012 by Democracy Now and PBS, when videos taken by witnesses were brought forward.

Yet most still to this day have never heard of him. Until now, that is, because the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights agreed on May 10, 2017 to take his case on behalf of his family. They have finally filed a complaint with the Trump Administration, leaving officials with three months to respond.

Anastacio’s Life

Anastacio came to the United States when he was only fifteen years old. He came here like every other immigrant: to find a better life. Eventually, he found work in construction and he married his love, Maria. Together they raised five children; all of them U.S. citizens. Maria would describe her husband as a hard worker and loving partner and father. But the American dream was not always so easy for them. Sometimes, like in most families, money got tight.

So it was that Anastacio found himself stealing groceries one day in order to feed the kids.

Arrested and sent back to Mexico after two weeks, he located his brother and made a plan to come back to his family in America. Without any immigration documents, Anastacio and Pedro would have to jump the southern border fence and outrun the Border Patrol to get back to Maria and their children. He had rent to pay and mouths to feed. A fence, a man made line in the dirt meant very little to him as it would to anyone if wearing his shoes. But Anastacio’s bad luck streak was not done with him yet. The Migra (slang Spanish for Border Patrol) quickly snatched him up and took him to the Chula Vista station in south San Diego for processing and what was intended to be a fast voluntary return back to Mexico on May 28, 2010.

Anastacio’s Death

I wouldn’t be writing this story today if things had gone smoothly for him. According to the Inter-American Commission complaint, Border Patrol Agent Gabriel Ducoing became angry with Anastacio for pouring a bottle of water out into the trash. He pushed Anastacio into a wall and kicked his feet apart as is often done when cops arrest someone. Unbeknownst to the agent, Anastacio had steel pins in his ankle from a surgery, and the kick re-injured it.

His brother, Pedro, stated that Anastacio cried out in pain as Agent Ducoing handcuffed him to a bench. For several hours, Anastacio requested medical assistance for his ankle and demanded an immigration hearing before a judge, but his pleas were ignored. Hours later, Supervisor Ismael Finn ordered Agents Ducoing and Krasielwicz to pay no attention to his pleas for medical attention and a hearing even though being denied a hearing when requested is a clear violation of the law. They were ordered to take him to the San Ysidro border and make him return to Mexico.

Once at the port of entry, the agents uncuffed Anastacio telling him to place his hands on his head as they did so. According to the agents, he instead placed his hands at his waist and in their own words stated he was “moving around too much.” Ducoing and Krasielwicz grabbed Anastacio and a fight ensued. Two other ICE agents from the port of entry ran over to assist. Andre Piligrino and Harinzo Narainesigh pulled their steal batons and repeatedly hit Anastacio in his stomach and diaphragm until the other two agents yelled for them to stop. Apparently, the baton swinging was so out of control, agents were hitting each other.

After handcuffing him again, the agents attempted to put Anastacio back into the truck but Anastacio resisted by putting his feet against the sides. Agents then threw him to the ground and began punching, stomping and kicking him with their boots while his hands were handcuffed behind his back. A crowd began to gather nearby and above the agents on the walkway. They filmed the incident with their phones and cameras. Anastacio’s screams for help can be heard on these videos.

Witnesses testified that fifteen to twenty agents showed up and dragged him behind the vehicle in an effort to hide him from the cameras. They were unaware of the cameras above them that clearly showed agents surrounding Anastacio, kicking and punching and then kneeling on his head and his chest. Agent Jerry Vales can then be seen tasering the victim four times even though he was still handcuffed and laying motionless in the fetal position. Before one taser, Agent Vales can be seen standing over a motionless Anastacio screaming, “Stop resisting!”

Agents were ordered to seize as many cell phones and cameras as they could from witnesses, while others hog-tied Ignacio’s feet to his hands. He went into convulsions and stopped breathing a full two minutes before agents attempted CPR.

“…blunt force injuries of the forehead, right side of face, lips, flank, abdomen, hands and lower legs . . . The abdominal injury which shows underlying soft tissue hemorrhage is consistent with a collapsible baton strike. . . The puncture marks over the right flank and left buttock are believed to be Taser marks.”

Dr. Pietruszka noted there were contusions, abrasions, and bruises on the following areas of Anastasio’s body: the right jaw, the upper jaw, the cheek area, both hands, right wrist, right thigh, extensive hematoma extending into the posterior paravertebral musculature near the left scapula (running along the upper left side of his back), abrasions of both knees and buttocks, contusions and abrasions of the upper and lower lips, the upper gum line, the left anterior chest, the left upper abdomen, the right pelvis, the left inner thigh, the right forearm, and the right anterior tibial region of the leg. Dr. Pietruszka additionally noted that Anastasio sustained five broken ribs.

Both autopsy doctors found the cause of death to be homicide.


The report notes that the Border Patrol had control of the crime scene for over twenty-four hours before the San Diego Police Department’s homicide team showed up. By then, the Border Patrol had destroyed many of the video and audio recordings of the incident. Agents had plenty of time to talk to each other about their stories and discuss the case with their union attorneys before being interviewed.

Even two years later with all the new videos coming forward, prosecutors still refused to bring charges. Federal agents are considered to have what is called “sovereign immunity.” In plain English, this means that the federal government must give the family permission to sue them. Maria and her family did eventually settle with the government in a civil case for $1 million.

Criminally though, none of the agents involved has even received disciplinary action for their involvement in Anastacio’s death. In November 6, 2015, the Department of Justice declined to take criminal action even without seeing the existing videos. Their decision appeared to hinge on a small amount of methamphetamine found in Anastacio’s blood at the time of his death. The videos and eyewitness testimony would clearly show that he was not combative with the agents, but the DoJ refused to hear it and closed the case.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Commission is perhaps the family’s last chance for justice. Established in 1959 and headquartered in Washington D.C., the Commission is a sort of UN for the Americas. And since the U.S. signed the Americas Declaration on the Rights of Man, it is legally bound to give this family their justice. The agreement bans “torture, excessive use of force and discrimination.” All of which apply to Anastacio’s case.

Justice for Anastacio and his family may never come, because the Trump administration does not consider human rights to be a priority. The administration walked out on the United Nations Human Rights Council, and has shown no signs of caring at all about them on any level, much less in the case of an immigrant.

Kushner Sells Visa Access to High-Roller Investors

First published on:

Yesterday my Twitter feed was filled with images of the Kushner family in Beijing. Most tweets either insinuated or flat out accused Jared Kushner, White House Innovations Director (whatever that is) and son-in-law to the president, of blatantly breaking conflicts of interest and ethics rules. But just because it says so on Twitter, doesn’t mean it’s true. Just look at Trump’s Twitter page, on any day, at any given time.

Then again, it is the Trump family.

The EB-5 Visa Program

The EB-5 Program was authorized by Congress under the Immigration Act of 1990. Every year, 10,000 visas are made available to wealthy foreign investors and their immediate family members. The investors must give $1 million either in cash or materials to business in the U.S. seeking to start a new project. The investment amount can be dropped to $500,000 if the new business is located in an approved targeted area in need of economic and job growth. All the money goes to the company. The U.S. government has no stake in the transaction.

If approved, the investors and their families receive a temporary visa for two years. After those two years, they are eligible for a permanent resident card and could conceivably become U.S. citizens through naturalization in years to come.

To call them investors is incorrect and misleading. The money is invested into the company, but they are essentially buying their visas.

Lack of Regulation

The requirements for the businesses boil down to it being a new project which must create 10 new jobs. Should the business fail to meet these obligations, the immigrant investor will be deported back to their country of origin. Businesses face no penalties.

This means that the immigrant investor assumes all liability in the EB-5 program. They must trust the company in the U.S. to do as it promises. In fact, most of the complaints filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) come from immigrants who gave their investments to companies that either did not start the project or finish it.

In the end, the business gets all the money and the immigrant is left hoping they keep their word. There is little oversight during the first two years, allowing scam artists to have their ways with these wealthy immigrants. Also troubling, there is no database for citizens to monitor these transactions. No transparency in who is buying these visas, where they are from or who is hiring them.

No Extreme Vetting Allowed

This is the one visa Trump will not try and ban. Susan Pai Law Offices suggests it is because 85% of EB-1 visas come from Chinese immigrants. Even though China is considered a threat to the U.S. by all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, EB-5 visa applicants are given a waiver. The amount of vetting for these immigrants is no more than what every other immigrant receives. The benefit is that they are fast tracked through the system and don’t go to the back of the line.

EB-5 visas are big business. Not only are big investment dollars being used but huge amounts of money are being made by attorneys that assist American businesses in finding these wealthy foreigners. Between the client matching and immigration legalities, law firms are raking in the bucks.

Buying Congress

Recently, Congress has suggested ending the EB-5 because it is nothing more than buying U.S. citizenship. Add to that the security risks it imposes and many in congress are crying foul. But not everyone is. Some congressmen are being influenced to continue the program.

Conflicts of Interest

Susan Pai brought up another, more interesting reason why Trump is not likely to ban the EB-5 program: his son-in-law’s company, Kushner 1, is currently in negotiations for more investments. The New York Times reported that Jared’s sister, Nicole Meyer was the one in Beijing the other day making a presentation to Chinese nationals interested in buying their way to U.S. citizenship. The Kushner family business is looking to raise $150 million to invest in their Jersey City, One Journal Square property. Both Kushner and Trump have used the EB-5 program in past developments.

The question of conflicts of interest or ethics violations remains. Kushner claims to have cut his ties to the company, but what does that mean? Does that mean he no longer receives money from that organization or that he is not involved in the day to day operations? Much like his father-in-law, Kushner is not transparent about any of this.

It is extremely worrisome that a picture of Trump and congressional supporters was shown at the conference. Are they offering access to Kushner and Trump? Is the Trump family once again inviting foreign nationalists into our institutions for their own benefit, like they did with the Russians?

None of these questions are likely to get answers any time soon seeing as how the Republicans are refusing to investigate.