Media Covers Sessions’ but not the Protests Against it. Why?

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/04/media-fails-cover-protests-against-ag

Attorney General Jeff Sessions escaped his elfin tree this past week to spew a stream of offensive, racist comments aimed at our border communities. While the lazy main stream media covered every marble-mouthed utterance of the Disgrace of Alabama, I chose to go down to the border in my home town of San Diego and see what Americans thought of all this race baiting. Oddly enough, they didn’t agree with El Elfo.

For those of you who have never been to San Diego, or any other border town for that matter, you should know that we consider the border and our neighbors to the south to be a part of our community. We’ve lived with each other for centuries. We party, pray and mourn together. We have family and friends on both sides. What happens south of the border, directly affects the north side and vise versa. So when Sessions had the nerve to visit border communities and call them “war zones” and filled with “violent gangs, drug dealers and murders,” members of those communities decided to fight back.

Alliance San Diego not only fights for immigrant rights, but for civil rights for all people, education equity and inclusive democracy. They hosted a rally supporting the border community of San Diego right outside of the port of entry at the exact same time as Sessions was hiding inside. Although they were invited, neither Sessions nor the national media bothered to come and speak to actual citizens of the border. They were only concerned with the opinion of those enforcing Trump’s immigration policies.

In attendance at the rally were leaders and members from Alliance SD, San Diego Human Rights Consortium, Asia Pacific American Labor Alliance, local Muslim and Christian faith leaders and everyday citizens. Reverend Beth Johnson of the Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship warmed up the crowd with some choice words for Sessions and the Trump administration:

“AG Sessions, General Kelly and Trump do not represent what is true for our border. This is a moral issue! It is wrong to denounce and dehumanize our community and to deny their inherit worth and dignity. It is wrong to militarize our border! It is wrong to tear families apart! It is wrong to build a wall! It is wrong to separate our communities!”

Christain Ramirez of Alliance SD brought the crowd home with a rousing personal speech:

“San Diego is a safe city. Days of hyperbolic rhetoric have come to an end.
Sessions’ words are an affront to our dignity and goes against basic ideas of democracy.”

“Let us be clear who is pushing the rhetoric of war in a time of peace!”

“The day will come when the people of the United States stand up!”

“We want to be able to walk to places of worship without worrying about being racially profiled. We want to be able to send our kids to school without worrying about whether they will make it home or not because they were picked up by Border Patrol and deported.”

“This is no longer a movement for immigrant rights, for Latino communities, for the Muslim community or for women and LGBTQ communities! It is now a movement to defend the basic values of democracy!”

Ramirez further stated that he recalled growing up in the San Ysidro area and being arrested by the Border Patrol as he tried to walk to school. He was routinely handcuffed and placed in the back of their vehicles even though he was a United States citizen. He was only 13 or 14 years old and remembered watching his parents and neighbors being arrested by Border Patrol even though they were also citizens.

“I don’t want my son to go through the indignity of being handcuffed simply because of the color of his skin!”

According to Ramirez, Alliance SD has invited Jeff Sessions and Trump numerous times to talks regarding the border communities, but they have never returned their requests. Much like the Trump administration’s ignorance of the border, those Americans who do not reside here are equally as oblivious. But at least many of those Americans can be forgiven their ignorance since their only source of information, the media, refuses to cover the actual people living on the border or admit that in fact American border cities are some of the most safest cities in the country.

The Trump administration is simply race baiting and inventing a boogie man out of the border and immigrants to keep its followers in fear. The media is assisting Trump by giving them a platform to showcase their bigotry while ignoring the facts and the voices of our border communities.

 

ICE Building More Private Prisons For Immigrants!

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/04/ice-building-more-prisons-immigrants

Right on the heels of Jeff Sessions’ announcement that even non-criminals will now be charged with a felony and imprisoned for simply trying to find a job, ICE just announced they awarded The GEO Group with a brand new contract. The GEO group is one of the largest private prison corporations with seventy-four prisons,fifty residential re-entry facilities, sixty-one day reporting groups and twelve juvenile prisons. Thanks to all the money they shell out to politicians, they can add one more prison specifically designated for immigrants. This new facility is to be built in Conroe, Texas where it already owns and runs the Joe Corley Detention Facility that also houses immigrants and federal Marshall’s prisoners.

Federal pay for play using tax payer dollars

Private prisons have been dumping money into politicians’ pockets for years now. It’s nothing new. And all of that money, every bit of it, is taxpayer money. Over the last fourteen years, GEO alone has hired over 290 lobbyists costing over $11.5 million. Add to that another $7.5 million given directly to candidates and you’ve got a pay for play scandal. GEO maintains prisons all over the country, but their biggest political targets are in Florida and the southern border states.

But ever since the private prison industry got a whiff of former President Obama’s plan to no longer contract with them, The GEO Group has been working overtime lobbying congress. More to the point, lobbyist forms filed with congress show The GEO Group was specifically asking congress to allow them to incarcerate immigrants, and many of those forms list then Senator Jeff Sessions as their target. Trump had named Sessions as his pick for Attorney General as early as June of 2015 which would explain this sudden interest in lobbying him to use private prisons to incarcerate immigrants.

From July to December 2016, GEO spent $120,000 on lobbying Sessions. GEO also gave $215,000 to Trump Victory. None of this dirty money includes donations to various state parties or other congressional candidates, both Republican and Democrat or any dark money PACS. Overall, GEO spends roughly 85% or more with Republicans versus Democrats.

At least four former aides to Jeff Sessions have become lobbyists for Bradley, Arant et al, a firm hired to lobby for The GEO Group. Former Sessions’ aide, David J. Stewart, was the first to join in 2000. He was followed by David O. Stewart (legislative correspondent) in 2010, and Lloyd Peeples (counsel to Sessions) and Ryan Robichaux (legislative aide) in 2016.

As mentioned last week in my article concerning Sessions’ investments, the attorney general who is filling these private prisons owns stock in both The GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc, another private prison corporation. A link to the article can be found here.

Local Pay for Play

The mayor of Conroe, TX, Toby Powell, stated that there was no need for another private prison. As Jay R. Jordan from mysanantonio.com reported, Mayor Powell learned about the new prison from reading the local paper. But approval had been given back in 2013 by the Montgomery County commissioners after they had approved the sale of the first facility to GEO.

The three gringos, Clark, Riley and Doyal have a history of conflicts of interest and were even brought up on charges for violating Texas law against officials having secret deliberations in 2016. Fortunately for them, their fellow law makers said they could use campaign donations to pay for their defense attorneys. How convenient for them. The case is still pending though Doyal has now been elected to a local judgeship. The private meetings revolved around approving a $280 million bond for road improvements and new highways. Doyal specifically receives large donations from engineering firms and construction companies as he is fond of pushing through this type of legislation. So, it’s no surprise that he seconded the motion to give GEO another unnecessary prison as they gave him big money.

According to the mayor, GEO will still have to apply for permits and the facility though the opinions of the voters are not needed. But hey, who really gives a shit what voters think when they are making money hand over fist.

While we’re all busy working to pay our taxes, politicians are creating ways to fill prisons so they can give them more taxpayer money, that will in turn be given back to the elected officials to help them run their campaigns and defend them should they be caught breaking the law. And to think, all it took was giving millions of your taxpayer dollars back to elected officials for the law to be rewritten so that The GEO Group could then incarcerate more people and break up more families simply because they were looking for a better life. MAGA!

 

Immigrant Children Celebrate Easter While Armed Border Agent Keeps a Watchful Eye

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/04/families-forced-celebrate-easter-border

Like many American families, immigrant families also celebrated Easter this year with music, food and prayer. But this gathering in Imperial Beach, California at the Border Field State Park to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ was unlike any other celebration in the land of the free. There was no clinking of wine glasses to toast the day, no egg hunt for the children, no hugging of loved ones. Families were instead separated by a giant metal fence and monitored by armed border agents as if they were criminals.

Sadly many families could not join their loved ones on this day. If you are elderly or disabled, there’s no possible way for you to make the journey. Just to get to the border fence requires a mile and a half hike down a sandy, rocky road that is littered with horse manure. Families are greeted with signs warning them of rattle snakes and information about how the area is contaminated with sewage. Border agents drive up and down the road on their ATVs and in their trucks, dusting those making the trek with the polluted sand. Then families must walk along the beach in thick sand and climb a small hill before reaching the area of the border fence that has a gate.

Loved ones must then wait for the border agent to open the first metal barrier so that they can then pass to the second fence. The agent warns everyone not to pass anything through the fence though it is near impossible to do so. In the past, the fence had open slats so that family members could hold hands. Today’s fence has so much fine mesh attached to it that visitors can merely place their hands against it. No gifts for children or letters to loved ones are allowed.

Elena came to the border to meet with her boyfriend who was just arrested and deported a few weeks ago by ICE. “He didn’t fight the deportation because agents threatened to arrest his family if he did not sign the forms,” she said.

To their credit, agents present this year were noticeably more respectful of the situation and of the families. This has not always been the case as Christian Ramirez, the Director of two immigration rights groups, Alliance San Diego and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, pointed out. Some agents in the past would intimidate families by sitting in their trucks forcing them to approach and ask for them to open the gate. Being that their loved ones had just been arrested and deported by these agents, fear would sometimes cause them to walk the mile and a half back to their vehicles and leave without ever seeing their family members on the Mexican side.

Still, all the respect in the world cannot take away the fact that children are celebrating the Easter holiday staring through a fence while federal agents armed with semi-automatic weapons, pepper spray and tasers are just a few feet away.

El Faro: the Border Church/La Iglesia Fronteriza performed prayer services in both Spanish and English while families placed their hands on the fence. The Border Church is a regular here holding services every Sunday for those in need. Also in attendance was the Caravan Against Fear, a grassroots effort by the SEIU (United Service Workers West Union) addressing immigration rights and the need to keep families together. The Caravan is traveling through California speaking to congressional leaders and immigration rights groups. They will continue their journey along the southern border through to Texas.

These are the circumstances that these families find themselves in. With this administration now charging immigrants with felonies instead of misdemeanors for simply seeking employment, agents can expect the numbers of loved ones making the hike to the border fence to grow.