"It's a problem of moral perpitude." -- Badlands Journal leader
A theory about the latest US Immigration and Customs Enforcement fiasco: 15-year-old Jakadrien Lorece Turner of Houston TX just wanted to travel to exciting foreign countries. She lacked foreign language as does the overwhelming majority of American high school students, but that was no barrier to her adventurous spirit.
And she found the perfect free tour, ICE, an agency that has such a weakness for high school girls that around here its dark minions ambush school buses in the morning.
Nevertheless,, less the inconvenience of momentary incarceration, Turner got a free trip to exciting Colombia. No one in the ssytem caught on to her ruse, probably because her skin tone is like that of many Colombians.
Once the media pressure is again diverted to the thrills of Republican primary electionss, ICE will probably throw the book at Turner to teach her a lesson she will never forget: You will pay dearly if you ever make the US Department of Justice look ridiculous!
The Alma Oseguera Affair was a more widely covered case about the unseemly yen ICE and its political supporters have for high school girls. See below or at:
Public Letter from Central Valley Safe Environment Network to the McClatchy Company Officers and Board of Directors
Submitted: Jun 23, 2006
Central Valley Safe Environment Network
P.O. Box 64
Merced, CA. 95341
Badlands Journal editorial board
Los Angeles Times
Deported teen masqueraded as immigrant, became Colombian citizen
“Upon her conviction, she was referred to ICE where she continued to maintain a false identity during immigration court proceedings. As is standard protocol, criminal database searches and biometric verification were conducted and revealed no information to invalidate her claims. She was ultimately ordered removed from the U.S. by a Department of Justice immigration judge ... "Never during that criminal proceeding did she purport to be someone else, or say she was a U.S. citizen," said Barbara Gonzalez, an ICE spokeswoman. "There was nothing to invalidate her claim. This is someone who’s under oath in a criminal proceeding. The criminal justice system did not know she was a minor." -- ICE spokeswoman Gonzalez noted that a Colombian consular official interviewed Jakadrien and issued her travel documents before
(LA Times update)
'Excited' family awaits return of runaway teen from Colombia
Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston
A 15-year-old Texas girl who claimed to be an illegal immigrant and was deported to Colombia will be returning home to the United States on Friday, according to federal immigration officials.
U.S. Immigration officials said they were investigating the case of Jakadrien Lorece Turner, who ran away from her Texas home more than a year ago -- and was deported to Bogota. Turner was recently found there by Dallas police with the help of Colombian and U.S. investigators.
Turner was to leave Bogota on Friday and fly home. No other details were immediately available, according to an official from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“ICE is facilitating her return to the United States in coordination with the U.S. Department of State and local authorities,” Barbara Gonzalez, media secretary for the immigration agency said in a telephone interview from Washington. She gave no other details.
The Turner case has ignited a furor over how a 15-year-old could be deported, even if she claimed a false identity. In media interviews, her relatives have said that officials should have done more to make sure of the identity.
Her family has said that Turner left home in November 2010. Houston police have said she was arrested for misdemeanor theft and claimed to be a Colombian national.
ICE said it has confirmed those facts, but insists it followed procedure in such cases.
“Preliminary information suggests that after being arrested on state charges for theft by the Houston Police Department, the minor provided a false identity, representing that she was an adult from Colombia with no legal status in the U.S.,” according to an ICE statement of the case. “She maintained this false identity throughout her local criminal proceedings in Texas where she was represented by a defense attorney and ultimately convicted by the State criminal court.
“At no time during these criminal proceedings was her identity determined to be false,” ICE notes.
“Upon her conviction, she was referred to ICE where she continued to maintain a false identity during immigration court proceedings. As is standard protocol, criminal database searches and biometric verification were conducted and revealed no information to invalidate her claims. She was ultimately ordered removed from the U.S. by a Department of Justice immigration judge.”
After arriving in Colombia, the girl was given Colombian citizenship, according to ICE.
According to the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the girl was enrolled in the country's “Welcome Home” program after she arrived there. She was given shelter, psychological assistance and a job at a call center, the agency said in a statement quoted by the Associated Press.
When the Colombian government discovered she was a U.S. citizen, it put her under the care of a welfare program, the statement said.
Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez
Deportation of U.S. Teen to Colombia Latest Failure of Immigration System
JUAN GONZALEZ: The family of a 15-year-old girl from Dallas, Texas, is demanding answers after she was deported to Colombia, despite the fact that she is a U.S. citizen and speaks no Spanish. Jakadrien Turner reportedly ran away from home more than a year ago after her parents divorced and her grandfather passed away. She was living in Houston when, according to news reports, she was arrested for shoplifting and gave police a fake name that belonged to a 22-year-old undocumented immigrant from Colombia. That’s when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, got involved. Its agents reportedly took her fingerprints and ran them through their criminal database and biometric verification system. They discovered the prints did not match the name Turner gave them, but they did match a woman who had warrants for her arrest. Despite the lack of a fingerprint match to the name she provided, ICE then deported Jakadrien Turner to Colombia.
Turner’s grandmother spent the last year searching for the teen on the internet and finally tracked her down using Facebook. She was shocked to find she was living in Colombia, reportedly cleaning houses. The girl’s mother, Johnisa Turner, and grandmother, Lorene Turner, spoke to CNN about their confusing ordeal.
LORENE TURNER: You have to have IDs to get, you know, to another country. And I just don’t understand how it could happen. Someone made a goof, and I think it was in ICE or someone. They made—they goofed up.
ED LAVANDERA: It seems like part of you thinks that this isn’t your daughter’s doing.
JOHNISA TURNER: I mean, I feel like she was—she has been coerced. I feel like someone has told her, maybe promised her something, or something. I don’t know. But it’s not her—it’s not her. It’s not her personality. There has to be adults involved. No 14-year-old can change their name and get to Colombia on their own.
AMY GOODMAN: Jakadrien Turner’s grandmother and mother.
Well, the 15-year-old girl may now be on her way back to the United States. She’s expected to be turned over to officials from the U.S. embassy in Colombia later today.
Meanwhile, ICE has issued a statement that the agency, quote, "takes these allegations very seriously. At the direction of [the Department of Homeland Security], ICE is fully and immediately investigating this matter in order to expeditiously determine the facts of this case," they said.
For more on the case, we go to Dallas, where we’re joined by Reverend Peter Johnson, who has worked with the Turner family through all of this, longtime civil rights leader who is deeply involved in immigrant rights, working on scores of cases with actual immigrants. His history as an activist extends to the 1960s, when was the youngest staff member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the youngest man still alive from King’s original staff.
We’re also joined in Chicago by Jacqueline Stevens, a political science professor of Northwestern University. Her most recent book is States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals. She recently published an exhaustive report on U.S. citizens who have been detained and deported.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s turn to Reverend Johnson first. How did this happen? Jakadrien, a 15-year-old Dallas girl, is deported to another country, to Colombia?
REV. PETER JOHNSON: Well, first, I appreciate this opportunity. I’m sitting here with my friend Ralph Isenberg, who’s probably the leading voice in America regarding immigration. We’ve probably dealt with 300, maybe 400, cases over the last four years with immigrant families.
It’s impossible for me to say how this happened, other than ICE and the United States government seemed to be committed to deporting as many people a month as they possibly can deport, without any adjudication, not going before a judge, not being charged, just rounding up people and deporting them. And most of the people they are deporting are poor people. To do this to this particular family is indicative of what ICE has been doing for the last four or five years. We can, Ralph and I can, state case after case after case where kids come home from school, mother is not there. Mother never comes back home. ICE have locked the mother up, sent her to a jail, and she is deported. Kids don’t know what happened to their mother. This is typical of ICE: the destruction of families in this society.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, but, Reverend Johnson, this—
RALPH ISENBERG: Hello, this is Ralph Isenberg in Dallas.
You know, the thing is, is that everything that could possibly go wrong seems to have gone wrong in this case. I think one thing that’s important that we have to remember is that we’re talking about a minor. And minors are supposed to be protected. So I’m not so certain that it’s wise to go into too many details, because that child has got a life to live yet. And the important thing is, is that we get her home. Clearly, law enforcement is going have to look into what happened and why it happened. You know, we have thousands of people every single day that are deported that don’t want to get deported. My understanding, and apparently it has been verified, is that this young lady, in fact, wanted to be deported versus going home. Now, if she was influenced in that, that has to be looked at, too. But I actually see so much abuse in our system, I understand why she would have been deported. It happens every day.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask Reverend Peter Johnson how you and Ralph Isenberg, who is sitting next to you there in Dallas, a Dallas businessman, came to be involved in immigrants’ issues.
REV. PETER JOHNSON: Oh, well, first Ralph and I had worked together in civil rights and social justice and human rights issues for many years. Ralph and I have traveled together and done things all over the South together. For me, it’s all divine. God moves in mysterious ways. Ralph is married to a beautiful girl from China, who one day was picked up by the Dallas Police Department, turned over to ICE, put in a prison 400 miles from Dallas, and eventually deported to China. Ralph, fighting to get his wife, who was pregnant at the time with his little boy, back into the country, eventually moved to China. In fact, I told my friend that I didn’t think I was going to ever see him again, because I knew how much he was committed to his family, and I didn’t think he would ever come back. But he fought with the United States government, the State Department, and eventually got his wife back into the country. But Ralph—
RALPH ISENBERG: Peter, you got about every fact wrong there, but I love you. But the truth of the matter is that, you know, I had my own experience with immigration. It was not very healthy. I was not back in the United States for two days, and an attorney, Ted Cox from New York City, a very good immigration attorney—
REV. PETER JOHNSON: Ted, yeah.
RALPH ISENBERG: —called me up and said, "Ralph, do you know that there’s a prison in Texas that has kids in it?" I thought Ted was just joking with me, because I was back, and I had jetlag. And all of a sudden, I’m introduced to Hutto. And I find out that we have 500 kids, three-year-olds, five-year-olds, two to a cell with a toilet in the middle, basically in a maximum security prison, being housed. And these kids haven’t committed any crimes. And for the most part, their families had not committed any crimes. And, you know, I was aghast. You don’t—you don’t jail kids in the United States. We had to put an end to that. With the help of Josh Bardavid, another fine attorney in New York, we were able to shut that place down. And we were in court actually a month and a half before the ACLU.
But that just started opening up the calls that came to my office. And I got Peter involved. Hundreds and hundreds of people in need. You know, someone that’s been in the United States since they’ve been six weeks old, they’re 20 years old, they get picked up, and in a matter of a week’s time they’re deported to Mexico. They don’t even speak Spanish, and they’re in Mexico. We were able to get that man back, Hector Lopez, last year. We have another lady who is married to a U.S. citizen, three beautiful citizen daughters, the Lopez children, and she’s three-and-a-half months pregnant. We have a policy. We’re not supposed to be deporting pregnant people. Last March, she is deported to Mexico. These kids are hysterical.
REV. PETER JOHNSON: Yeah.
RALPH ISENBERG: They want their mother home. And yet, you know, in reviewing her case, everyone said that, you know, she was wrong. Well, I found error after error after error that the government had made. In fact, the government performed an illegal search and entry in the home that led to her deportation. We have people on ankle monitors that are released on OR. Now, it’s an oxymoron to say that we’re going to put an ankle monitor on somebody that’s released on OR. We’ve got a suit filed there for cruel and unusual punishment. Imagine having to be plugged into an electric wall plug three hours a day. The number of cases that I’m seeing from across my desk—
JUAN GONZALEZ: Ralph Isenberg—
RALPH ISENBERG: —I’m not—yes?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Ralph Isenberg, I’d like to ask you—you’ve been back and forth to Mexico, as well, in recent years to try to help some of these folks who have been deported. Has there been any change during the period of the Obama administration in terms of how ICE operates? We obviously have seen increases—
RALPH ISENBERG: Oh, yeah, it’s gotten worse.
REV. PETER JOHNSON: It’s gotten worse. That’s been a change.
JUAN GONZALEZ: —in the number of deportations, but what about the change of administration?
RALPH ISENBERG: Obama—you know, you look recently at a statistic coming out of Denver, Colorado, 85 percent of the people deported out of Denver, Colorado, have got no criminal history. We still have in Dallas, Texas, a group from ICE that’s going around and picking up people that have no criminal record, and they’re basically each day getting a couple so they can fill the bus up. And they’re performing illegal searches and entries. And this is happening every single day.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring—
RALPH ISENBERG: Just last Thursday, ICE showed up at a home and took—tried to deport a lady who had a seven-year-old son who had cerebral palsy that was a United States citizen. I mean, the country has no idea that we have got a rogue police force. That rogue police force is called ICE.
REV. PETER JOHNSON: Yeah.
RALPH ISENBERG: As far as I’m concerned, they’re bullies, and they’re thugs, and they don’t follow the law. They don’t follow the Constitution. And they’ve got free rein on people that really need help.
AMY GOODMAN: We started this conversation—
REV. PETER JOHNSON: We were just in Mexico a couple of weeks ago—
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Johnson?
REV. PETER JOHNSON: —trying to bring Miss Betty Lopez back, and of course we were stopped at the border with this lady and her family. The family went to spend Thanksgiving with Miss Lopez in Mexico, and a gunfight took place in front of the building they were living in, scared these children to death. These were straight-A children before this happened to this family.
Why we are destroying families in this nation is beyond me. And I’m hoping that Black America, who have a history of understanding the destruction of our families, because slavery done that to our families, will at some point wake up and understand that the problem of immigrants is something we cannot ignore. We must stand up and speak out, because this is a civil rights and a human rights issue that’s directly related to our history.
AMY GOODMAN: We started this conversation—
RALPH ISENBERG: Well, I think, more importantly, it’s probably a constitutional right issue. You cannot illegally search—
AMY GOODMAN: Just one sec—just one second, Ralph. I want to bring in—I want to bring in Jacqueline Stevens, a professor at Northwestern University, who has just published an exhaustive report on U.S. citizens who have been detained and deported. She’s joining us from Chicago. We began the conversation with Jakadrien Turner, 15-year-old girl from Texas, who gives a false name when she’s arrested. She’s afraid. And this name links to a name of an undocumented immigrant. And though they take her fingerprints, and they do biometrics and see she is not that person, she is still deported to Colombia. Her family is looking for her for a year. How typical is this, Jacqueline Stevens?
JACQUELINE STEVENS: Well, I did research in the southern Arizona area to look at the rate at which people who had been detained in that area were found—had their deportation orders terminated by an immigration judge because they were determined to be U.S. citizens. And I found that between 2006 and 2008, 82 out of the over 8,000—the 8,007, I think—files that I considered showed these cases that were terminated because the people were found to be U.S. citizens. That area has 10 percent of the nation’s detainees. And so, I think it’s, you know, reasonable on the basis of that research and additional research, including interviews with immigration judges, ICE agents and people who have actually been deported, to extrapolate that figure. There was also a study that was done by the New York City Bar Association in 2009, and they found that 8 percent of the people that they interviewed in the Varick detention center appeared to be U.S. citizens. So, I think there’s a systemic problem in this country of ICE detaining and, in addition, deporting U.S. citizens.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, Professor Stevens—
JACQUELINE STEVENS: And I just want to say something about the 1 percent figure. Some people might think that sounds kind of low. I mean, it’s just 1 percent. But in light of the massive sweeps and deportation efforts by ICE, in absolute numbers that’s an actually quite large number. That works out to thousands of people each year—
JUAN GONZALEZ: But Professor Stevens—
JACQUELINE STEVENS: —who are U.S. citizens who are being detained or deported.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Professor Stevens, when you talk about cases being terminated because they’re found to be U.S. citizens, these are people who may have spent months or years in detention while their cases were being adjudicated?
JACQUELINE STEVENS: That’s absolutely correct. So, these are people who were either in the Florence or Eloy detention centers, and they were detained, in some cases, over a year before they were released. You know, it’s interesting, because on the one hand, in a previous case of Mark Lyttle, who was born in North Carolina and deported to Mexico, ICE tries to justify that by saying, oh, well, you know, based on their documents, which were not reflective of his actual record, an immigration judge ordered his deportation. But there’s a case going on right now in the southern Arizona area involving a man named George Ibarra. An immigration judge terminated his deportation order in February of 2010—sorry, in February of 2011, and yet ICE ignored that and held him in detention and appealed the termination, ignoring the evidence of his U.S. citizenship that he had submitted. So, as the gentlemen were saying in Texas, they do appear—ICE just really does appear to be bent on deporting people regardless of their valid claims to U.S. citizenship.
There’s a case going on right now in—also in southern Arizona involving Esteban Tiznado. And he’s the cousin of a gentleman named Humberto Carrillo Carrillo-Tiznado, who had his U.S. citizenship affirmed in June 2011 based on the same family history that also verifies Esteban Tiznado’s U.S. citizenship. Both of these men had been deported and served—had not only been deported, but they actually, when they returned to the United States, were convicted and served, each, years in prison for illegal reentry. In 2008, Esteban Tiznado again returned, after being deported following serving his prison sentence for illegal reentry, which is predicated on alienage, and at that point he had a very good lawyer, who presented evidence, had a jury trial, as opposed to the plea deal to which Esteban had been encouraged to agree in the previous trial. And the jury unanimously found him not guilty on the basis of the evidence that his lawyer presented of his U.S. citizenship. Nonetheless, after he’s found not guilty, ICE immediately deports him again. And so, you know, he then returned, and now, on the basis of legal work that was done on his behalf by a legal organization in that area, has a habeas order—sorry, a stay on his removal while the federal courts work out the mess that ICE has created.
AMY GOODMAN: And veterans, final—
JACQUELINE STEVENS: There’s a—
AMY GOODMAN: Final point on the issue of veterans?
JACQUELINE STEVENS: Excuse me? On the issue of veterans?
AMY GOODMAN: The issue of veterans deported, people—
JACQUELINE STEVENS: People—well, so, George Ibarra was an honorably discharged marine, and he had been deported. There’s also, I guess, thousands of U.S. veterans who are in deportation proceedings or have been deported. There’s an organization that was set up by Manuel Valenzuela and his brother. The Valenzuela brothers is their website. And they’ve documented these cases that involve people who have green cards, served in the military, are honorably discharged, and then, because of a run-in with the law, are put into deportation proceedings. And they, understandably, find this very upsetting, and they’re urging President Obama, after people have served their prison sentences, if they’re veterans, for the President to pardon them, so that these veterans won’t be deported.
AMY GOODMAN: A final comment from Reverend Johnson—is Jakadrien—
REV. PETER JOHNSON: Yeah, I just—
AMY GOODMAN: We only have 30 seconds, but is Jakadrien expected to reunite with her family soon?
REV. PETER JOHNSON: From what we can understand, that she will be turned over in Colombia to the United States embassy and brought back to America. So that’s the information that we’ve been given.
RALPH ISENBERG: But I want to add, how do you—how do you justify someone that was selling cocaine or crack to kids afterwards being allowed to stay in this country? A lot of these cases where people are deported, that are veterans, have committed serious felonies. And just because they served this country doesn’t give them the right then to go sell drugs to kids and expect to be able to stay—
JACQUELINE STEVENS: Well, right. That’s what we have prison sentences for. So the people who were—
RALPH ISENBERG: —if they’re not citizens.
AMY GOODMAN: Jacqueline Stevens?
JACQUELINE STEVENS: Of course, but that’s what we have prison—that’s what we have prison sentences for. So, they’re not arguing that people who are convicted of crimes shouldn’t serve their prison time. Of course they should. But what they’re arguing is that people who, including his brother, have a Bronze Medal, shouldn’t be deported because of some run-in with the law after they’ve served their prison sentences.
By the way, the Valenzuela brothers also have a claim to U.S. citizenship through their mother, who is a U.S. citizen. She was born in New Mexico. And they’ve presented—they’re in deportation proceedings right now, although they’re not detained. And again, you know, despite having documents of their U.S. citizenship through a birth certificate from their mother, as well as the death certificate, both indicating her birth in New Mexico, ICE is nonetheless trying to get them to file an N-600 application for a certificate of citizenship, rather than simply recognize the documents, which, under the law, are sufficient to ascertain their U.S. citizenship.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there, and we’re also going to continue to follow the case of Jakadrien Turner, as well as a number of these cases. Professor Jacqueline Stevens of Northwestern University, thanks for joining us from Chicago. And thank you to Reverend Peter Johnson and Ralph Isenberg for joining us from Dallas.
Public Letter from Central Valley Safe Environment Network to the McClatchy Company Officers and Board of Directors
Submitted: Jun 23, 2006
Central Valley Safe Environment Network
P.O. Box 64
Merced, CA. 95341
Senior Officers of The McClatchy Company
Gary B. Pruitt - Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer
Heather L. Fagundes - Vice President, Human Resources
Christian A. Hendricks - Vice President, Interactive Media
Karole Morgan-Prager - Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Patrick J. Talamantes - Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer
Howard Weaver - Vice President, News
Robert J. Weil - Vice President, Operations
Frank Whittaker - Vice President, Operations
Directors of The McClatchy Company
Elizabeth A. Ballantine
Leroy Barnes Jr.
William K. Coblentz
Molly Maloney Evangelisti
Joan F. Lane
Brown McClatchy Maloney
Kevin S. McClatchy
Theodore R. Mitchell
S. Donley Ritchey
Frederick R. Ruiz
2100 Q Street
Sacramento CA 95815
P.O. Box 15779
Tel. (916) 321-1855
Fax (916) 321-1869 Via: Email and Fax
Re: Public Letter from Central Valley Safe Environment Network to the McClatchy Company Board of Directors
Date: June 23, 2006
McClatchy Officers and Directors:
In late April, Merced residents complained to you about a racist column by regular Merced Sun-Star columnist, David Burke, that appeared during a highly inflammatory period of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on undocumented workers in the county.
At that time we asked for an apology from McClatchy for allowing a column to be printed that was an insult to the entire Hispanic community during a period when it is under mounting racist pressure.
To date, we have received no apology from the board or the Sun-Star.
We did receive a telephone message from Lynn Dickerson, vice president for operations, explaining that we had just misunderstood the satire, irony and sarcasm. We also read Sun-Star editor, Joe Keita’s editorial, which followed the same line – a lecture on irony.
We have waited, patiently, for nearly two months for some sign of community sensitivity from the McClatchy corporation, as patiently as we have waited for years for competent journalism from our city’s newspaper.
The Merced Sun-Star has steadily disengaged itself from the community of Merced since the arrival of UC and its induced development. We had hoped that once McClatchy bought the paper, we would get competent journalism in our rapidly changing county. Instead, the McClatchy Co. local organ has continued to ally itself with the propaganda of special, outside, exploitive interests. Worst, it substitutes cheap sideshows for solid news people in Merced County need – often desperately – to know. It is an untrustworthy newspaper.
In the days following his literary offense against an 18-year-old high school girl incarcerated at an ICE facility in Bakersfield, Burke tried several strategies to explain himself. His attempt to appear on a local Spanish-language radio station was refused. He asked Le Grand High School administrators (where the 18-year-old was attending school before her arrest) if he could come out to talk to the students. The administrators asked the students. The students said they did not want to hear Mr. Burke’s explanation. The administrators relayed the message.
Surely, the second largest newspaper chain in America, based in Sacramento, knew by late April that rightwing Republicans were going to make illegal immigration from Mexico a big campaign issue in the 2006 elections. Its Minneapolis paper is only a stone’s throw from the Wisconsin congressional district of Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, author of HR 4437. Surely, McClatchy added the Merced Sun-Star to its holding because it was aware of the speculative real estate boom unfolding due to the arrival of UC Merced. How could the McClatchy organization not have known about the on-going, heavy development pressure on rural eastern Merced County, home of a large number of the county’s farmworkers and focus of the ICE raids in April. Certainly, a news organization as huge and sophisticated as McClatchy could figure out that the pressure on illegal Mexican immigrants in this part of the Valley is directly tied to escalating real estate values and developers’ plans for that region, which include icing farmworkers and endangered species as quietly as possible.
Into that explosive situation, the second largest newspaper chain in America injected this schmuck, Burke, this “former journalism professor,” and his “irony.” When we objected, we got an official explanation of irony instead of the simple, honest apology for a management oversight, which you owe this community and refuse to offer.
We are still waiting for that apology to our community for this insult. We live in one of the most ethnically diverse communities in America. We all make it work and this highly inappropriate column insults all of us, regardless of our ethnicity. When you insult the race and status of our neighbors, when you support (however “ironically”) policies that frighten people in our neighborhoods, you harm everybody. Just because McClatchy chooses to ignore – ostrich style – its insult to our community does not mean that the insult is forgotten. However, even at this point, a sincere apology might help.
Central Valley Safe Environment Network
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 11:06 AM
Subject: Merced sunstar article
Hi, My name is xxxx xxxxx and I am just asking for help. On April 22 there was an article put into the merced sun star by a David Burke a journalist . I was truly offended , I happen to personally know Alma Osegueras older sister Christina and could not believe what this man wrote but, most of all I cannot believe that the merced sunstar would allow such racism . I am disgusted with this newspaper . I don't really know what I can personally do. can the residents of Planada and Le Grand start a petition to get this man terminated or what ??? I don't know if your office handles things like this. I am just so angry at the merced sun star and I can tell you as a resident of Planada I'm not the only one. Please help..
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 9:39 AM
Subject: RE: Racially offensive commentary in the Merced Sun-Star
In case you haven't had a chance to read the Sun-Star this morning attached
is Joe Kieta's column as it appeared in our paper and on our website.
Hank N. Vander Veen
Publisher-The Merced Sun Star
Column wasn't meant to offend...Joe Kieta
David Burke was appalled by the strong-arm tactics U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents recently decided to write an ironic column that took the extreme opposite side in an effort to point out what he feels is the senselessness of the agency's actions. Unfortunately, some readers missed the irony in the column -- and for this we truly are sorry if anyone was offended. If used skillfully, a tongue-in-cheek comment or column can effectively crystallize an opinion; if the irony is missed, readers can be confused or outraged by the comments. ...some took his comments literally. ...he received an e-mail hours after it appeared applauding him for the extreme views. He since has received many more messages from readers who missed the irony. Burke's worried the column creates an incorrect perception that he's bigoted and insensitive. He wants to set the record straight: ...
For our part, the Sun-Star will be more careful in the future to make sure satirical columns are clearly labeled as such, which will eliminate any confusion. We could have labeled Burke's column accordingly, but didn't -- and for this, please accept our apologies.
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2006 12:46 AM
Subject: Saturday's Sun-Star column...
I have received a lot of feedback regarding my column from Saturday’s edition of the Sun-Star. I understand that you found the article to be offensive and that you’ve formally complained to officials of the McClatchy Corporation on behalf of the Central Valley Safe Environment Network.
My intention with this piece was to use irony and sarcasm to draw attention to attitudes and actions that I believe are cruel, unfair, insensitive and un-American.
Irony, as you know, is a technique in which a writer, or speaker, makes a statement that is opposite to their beliefs. This incongruity can have a dramatic effect when combined with sarcasm, as I attempted to do in the commentary.
A problem with irony is that some readers may take statements literally and believe that the intended message is actually its opposite. I clearly failed to craft this piece skillfully enough to make the irony clear to some readers.
For the record, let me say that I abhor the treatment of Alma Oseguera and her family at the hands of immigration agents. I believe raiding their home at 3 a.m. is the kind of behavior that we expect from secret police or government thugs in other countries, but not in the United States.
I do not believe that U.S. citizens are “more equal” than people from other nations and I despise racism and discrimination.
I hope you’ll take another look at Saturday’s commentary. A second read might reveal that my use of hateful language was intended to get the attention of good people who have become polarized and now view immigrants unfairly. My hope was that by exaggeration I might open some eyes and force people to look at the impact current policies are having on individuals like Alma.
Finally, I have a track record with the Sun-Star and I believe my body of work provides clear evidence that I am an advocate for children and for causes that are completely inconsistent with racism and intolerance.
I invite you to take a look at back issues of the paper. One article that may be particularly revealing is still posted online. You may choose to visit the following site:
I hope you will reconsider your position regarding my column or at least accept that my intent was not to promote racism. Though I may have missed the target on Saturday, a dialogue has begun and I believe the end result may still be enlightenment. I hope you’ll participate in the discussion and that you’ll continue to read the Sun-Star and my column.
Sent: Wednesday, April 26, 2006 10:50 AM
Subject: Quepasa News
Merced Newspaper Article
The following is an article published by the Merced Sun Star. It is very disturbing and in the "Gray" area of Hate Mail. It was written by a retired journalist. A group called Central Valley Safe Environment Network has responded to the McClatchy Newspaper Company. I will print their response at the next QUEPASA NEWS.
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 8:40 PM
Subject: Letter to The McClatchy Company re: Racially offensive commentary in the Merced Sun-Star
Wow - hard to believe they would publish that crap!
Juan de la Rana-Salta
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 3:28 PM
Subject: Racially offensive commentary in the Merced Sun-Star
Re: Racially offensive commentary in the Merced Sun-Star
Date: April 25, 2006
McClatchy Officers and Directors:
We write you to protest the publication on Saturday, April 22, 2006 of a column by a regular contributor to the Merced Sun-Star titled “Liberty, opportunity are for Americans only.”
Speaking as citizens of Merced and for citizens of the San Joaquin Valley and of the United States, we will not tolerate racist smears of 18-year-old high school girls in our newspaper; we will not tolerate our newspaper publishing its contempt for an entire ethnic minority; we will not tolerate a vicious attack on a person little more than a child without any means of defending herself, presently in a Border Patrol holding tank in Bakersfield; we will not tolerate our newspaper bullying the weak and defenseless.
We are not asking for or demanding the immediate dismissal of the publisher and the editorial staff of the Merced Sun-Star that published this racial slander and libel against a high school girl. We expect nothing less than their dismissal and an apology from the McClatchy board for publishing material with racial hatred content intended to intimidate and incite.
This newspaper has entirely lost contact with its community and with decency.
Merced Sun-Star, April 22, 2006
Weekend voices: Liberty, opportunity are for Americans only
The Central Valley Safe Environment Network is confident McClatchy officers and directors will do the right thing in a timely manner, removing the “leadership” of this newspaper, which increasingly over the last decade become a source of unjust speech and propaganda.
Central Valley Safe Environment Network
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 3:23 PM
Subject: Sun-Star article Weekend voices
By David F. Burke
Last Updated: April 22, 2006, 03:31:08 AM PDT
Get out of this valley, Alma Oseguara. Maybe after a few weeks in a Kern County jail you'll finally understand that we don't want you and your kind here in the San Joaquin Valley.
Never mind that you spent the last 12 years attending school here, and were weeks away from graduation at Le Grand High School. You and your bleeding-heart classmates need to understand that we expect you to obey the law of the land.
Even six-year-old illegals have to play by the rules and because you entered our country without permission when you were six, our agents were perfectly within their rights to "target" you and to bang on your door at 3 in the morning, demanding that you pack your bags and go directly to jail.
And don't start that old song about escaping from Mexico to get away from an abusive father, Alma.
Do you think we're the kind of nation that would welcome the wretched refuse of another country? Do you think we want more homeless, tempest-tossed masses of tired and poor people like you? Does our border look to you like some kind of golden door?
Forget that idea. We stopped holding the torch for your kind of immigrants long ago.
Liberty and opportunity are for Americans only. Did you imagine that we were talking about Mexicans when we said, "all are created equal?" Get real, Alma. Say goodbye to Le Grand High, to dreams of college and to friends and relatives you've known for a dozen years.
Bienvenidos a Mexico.
Let me explain how it works, Alma. My son looks a bit like you; he has the same skin tone. But Jesse had the good sense not to be born in Mexico - he was born in New Mexico.
About 300 years ago, his ancestors, named Garcia, came through Texas -- well, it may have been "Tejas" then -- and up into northern New -- I mean Nuevo -- Mexico and southern Colorado.
Then, 150 years later, my ancestors picked a fight with Mexico. We first tried to get what we wanted peacefully, offering our neighbors to the south $25 million for California. But the ignorant Mexicans thought the state was worth more than that.
So, we sent two armies into Mexico and a third to California, by way of New Mexico. The silly Mexicans refused to surrender, so we captured Mexico City and "convinced" our captors to accept just $15 million for the Golden State. The vanquished Mexicans threw in New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Utah - about half of their country, all told - for free.
And that, Alma, should explain why my brown-skinned son -- who was born in New Mexico -- gets to stay while you -- who were born in Old Mexico -- must leave.
It's not personal. It's the law. If you like, you can think of it as manifest destiny.
Now, get out of my country. And don't come back until you are legal.
Hank Vander Veen
Publisher, Merced Sun-Star
Editor, Merced Sun-Star