LatinaLista– The definition of “public domain,” according to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary is: “the realm embracing property rights that belong to the community at large, are unprotected by copyright or patent, and are subject to appropriation by anyone.”
These days, that definition easily applies to immigration enforcement where we are continually seeing people outside federal or law enforcement authority acting like they’re the local Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
One of the consequences of the Arizona SB1070 Bill is that, in addition to encouraging racial profiling to identify undocumented immigrants, the new law will also allow common citizens to get in on immigration enforcement by being able to bring lawsuits against their local police if they don’t think the police are patrolling enough for undocumented immigrants.
In some states, people aren’t even waiting for laws to give them any kind of authority.
In Utah, an anonymous letter was mailed to law enforcement and media outlets accusing 1300 people by name of being undocumented immigrants.
The list included not just names but birth dates, addresses, telephone numbers, and in some cases, even Social Security numbers and employers. The letter was signed by a group calling itself “Concerned Citizens of the United States.”
The group said they “strongly believe” people on the list are undocumented immigrants who should be deported. The names were compiled, according to the letter, by observing the individuals.
“We then spend the time and effort needed to gather information along with legal Mexican nationals who infiltrate their social networks and help us obtain the necessary information we need to add them to our list,” the letter explains.
Media did track down some of the names on the list and found that the people were either in the country legally or had recently become legal residents. The amount of detail given alongside some names was scary.
One woman had beside her name her due date. When contacted, she confirmed she had given birth but that she was a legal resident.
Authorities are trying to track down the source of this group to see how they acquired their information since this kind of thing is clearly illegal, invades the privacy of individuals and illustrates a level of surveillance that is disturbing.
But nothing is as disturbing as the case of an Austin grandmother who was manhandled by a deputy constable because she is a Mexican immigrant.
In May 2009, the woman went to her grandchildren’s elementary school to pick the children up when she encountered Deputy Constable Richard Furrs. Furrs was directing traffic and was showing her where to wait. As the woman began moving her car, Furrs started shouting her.
The woman, not speaking English, thought he was asking for ID. As she reached into her purse to pull out her ID, Furrs yanked her from her truck. He then began beating her with his baton. Witnesses said he was throwing the woman around “like a rag doll”, yelling racial epithets at her and saying that she needed to speak English because she was in America now. The woman was screaming in Spanish that she didn’t know what she had done wrong.
Jon Saucedo, a teacher, said he saw the woman on her knees and bleeding from her lip. His statement also said one of her breasts was exposed and that she was crying.
Witnesses said the woman begged Furrs to cover her up, and he responded by saying, “I don’t care. I like it.”
Saucedo said he stepped forward and offered to help translate for the woman, but Furrs reached for his gun and told him to back up.
Witnesses to the incident have gone on record saying they felt very intimidated by Furrs and some children who saw it unfold are now fearful of the police. A federal lawsuit is now pending against Furrs which was filed on behalf of the grandmother last week by the Texas Civil Rights Project.
In the comments section of the story, some people are cautioning that there are always two sides to every story and for people not to rush to judgement. Yet, in any case where we have a clear situation of a woman getting beaten up by a man who is stronger than her, being told to speak English and not respecting her enough to allow her to cover a bared breast with children watching then something is wrong with this man and that he is allowed to use his position to act out on personal feelings he may have towards Spanish-speaking immigrants.
It’s one thing for law enforcement to enforce the law but it’s quite another for someone wearing a badge to let their personal feelings intrude on their job to the point that their actions cross the line.
And as long as the Republicans avoid their duty to pass meaningful immigration reform, more disgusting cases to even further extremes will be committed against Latinos as citizens will feel empowered to enforce immigration policy on their own terms.