File Unsealed in Gun Case in Bid to Find Four Fugitives

July 10, 2012

The New York Times, 07/09/2012

The Justice Department on Monday unsealed the indictment of five people in the killing of a Border Patrol agent whose death was linked to the disputed gun-trafficking investigation called Operation Fast and Furious. Four of the defendants are fugitives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation offered a $1 million reward for any information that leads to their capture.

The indictment contends that the men had illegally entered the United States from Mexico with a plan to “arm themselves with firearms” and use the weapons to rob drug traffickers of marijuana. Instead, the men got into a gunfight with four Border Patrol agents, including Agent Terry.

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Justice Department: Sheriff Arpaio mistreated Latinos

December 15, 2011

Politico, 12/15/11

The Justice Department on Thursday accused Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio of violating constitutional and civil rights in a “pattern of misconduct” that involved targeting and mistreating Latinos.

The Obama administration’s report found there was “reasonable cause” to believe Arpaio was involved in discriminatory policing practices, such as unlawful stops, detentions and arrests of Hispanics; discriminatory jail practices against Latino inmates with limited proficiency in English by punishing them and denying certain services; and unlawful retaliation against individuals criticizing the office’s practices.

Arpaio, an elected sheriff known for his tough treatment of inmates, has been highly sought-after in the conservative community for his tough-on-crime and tough-on-immigration credentials. Last month, the sheriff endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president.


Hate Crime Acquittal Becomes Hispanic Rallying Cry

May 12, 2009

The New York Times, 5/12/2009

Teenagers, a small town and alcohol. Tension between whites and a growing Hispanic population. Ethnic slurs, punches and kicks. A dead illegal immigrant from Mexico.

The acquittal of white Pennsylvania teenagers of all serious charges this month in the death of Luis Ramirez has become a rallying cry for justice among Hispanics who feel increasingly under attack here in America. It also has exposed difficulties in enforcing hate crime laws designed to keep minorities from becoming targets.

Civil rights groups and elected officials were planning a news conference Wednesday to urge the Justice Department to prosecute the Ramirez case after the state-court acquittals, and to renew calls for passage of a federal hate crimes bill that would expand enforcement and extend protection to gay and transgender individuals.

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Editorial: Obama Flinches on Immigration

March 23, 2009

The New York Times, 3/23/2009

In a little-noticed act of political faintheartedness, the Obama administration has pulled back from nominating Thomas Saenz, a highly regarded civil-rights lawyer and counsel to the mayor of Los Angeles, to run the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

Mr. Saenz, the former top litigator in Los Angeles for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or Maldef, was privately offered the job in January. The floating of his name led to fierce outbursts from anti-immigrant groups and blogs, which detest him for being so good at what he does.

Mr. Saenz would have been an ideal candidate to reaffirm values that have been lost in the poisoned immigration debate, had Mr. Obama dared to nominate him.

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Push on Immigration Crimes Is Said to Shift Focus

January 11, 2009

The New York Times, 1/11/2009scale-of-justice

Inside a courthouse just north of the Rio Grande, federal judges mete out prison sentences to throngs of 40 to 60 illegal immigrants at a time. The accused, mostly from Central America, Brazil and Mexico, wear rough travel clothes that speak of arduous journeys: flannel shirts, sweat suits, jeans and running shoes or work boots. The prosecutors make quick work of the immigrants. Under a Justice Department program that relies on plea deals, most are charged with misdemeanors like improper entry.

Federal prosecutions of immigration crimes nearly doubled in the last fiscal year, reaching more than 70,000 immigration cases in the 2008 fiscal year, according to federal data compiled by a Syracuse University research group. The emphasis, many federal judges and prosecutors say, has siphoned resources from other crimes, eroded morale among federal lawyers and overloaded the federal court system.

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