A Higher Standard – Or…The Peter Parker Realization…

2 03 2010

Now fair warning… I was a hell-raiser when I was younger. I was one of those folks that many would have loved to have seen locked away permanently for the “good of society” (thank god it didn’t happen…). I did some bad things, and I didn’t particularly care well for myself or anyone else for that matter which certainly didn’t help. But I was not really a “bad” person. In any case…I did love sports, and it was one of the few things I participated in that made me feel like I could affect the outcome of something in a positive way.

I remember one time when I had gotten into trouble for being tardy to a few classes my head coach called me into his office during athletics one day. He told me, “son, you’re not going to start the game this week.” I was shocked and devastated. “Why? I have worked my tail off in practice coach. I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to and more.” He then proceeded to tell me how my excessive tardies were unacceptable. I said, “I’ve done everything else right that you’ve asked me to. I’ve been a model athlete in every other way. No other students get treated in this manner and it’s not fair.” That’s when he took a deep breath and told me, “son, you are a member of a special group of students. This group you belong to receives special benefits that other students don’t receive such as early releases, special activities, and much more. Furthermore, you are role model to all of the younger students in the school. They look up to the members of this team and aim to join this team someday. Because of all of this, I expect you and the other members of this team to be held to a higher standard. It might not be fair or equitable, but mistakes that go unpunished in other students must be dealt with for those on this team. If you make it to class without being late this next week, I’ll restore your starting position. Until then though…you’re not starting and that’s it. You can leave now.”

I was livid. I couldn’t believe how I was being singled out for something that so many other people got away with every day. I had done so much that was so good…didn’t that make up for it?

The answer is no. It doesn’t make up for it. Coach was absolutely right…and you know what officers…the same goes for you. It might not be fair or fun…but when you are sworn in and given your badge and gun…along with the constant danger you face comes substantial privileges and power over ordinary citizens that provides you and yours with benefits and freedoms not otherwise obtainable by common citizens. It is for this, that an officer’s behavior must be above reproach. His or her honesty, integrity, and yes, moral compass must be always in tune and perfect. And if you say that this is not something that is possible…perhaps it’s time to hit the books and find another line of work because it certainly is possible…just maybe not for you. You might also ask why it is that a good officer could have their entire career ruined by one careless or mistaken act…and I’d rebut with the fact most people live with the possibility of losing their careers for things far less harmful than the mistakes that can be made by erroneous, ignorant, or egotistical officer. That’s just the way it is. Ask the nurse who accidentally kills someone’s little baby if it’s fair that her 25-year career in Nursing is over with after one incident…sorry folks…some jobs have responsibilities that rise to a level beyond that of others and being a peace officer is one of them. Nobody forced anyone into pursuing a career in law enforcement anyway. It is choice made by one’s own direct intention. It’s a tough career that is fraught with many emotional and physical challenges, but that’s no excuse for making mistakes or errors that lead to the deprivation of individuals’ basic liberties, rights, and freedoms and then failing to do everything to atone or repair such actions. Once again…I don’t actually condemn officers and agents for being human and making mistakes. I do condemn them for seeking to cover up, obfuscate, and otherwise hide such errors when they commit them…and sorry folks…you’re not going to shake my contention that most of the time when an officer makes such errors that they usually do their damned best to do just that. Furthermore…if you want to make the contention that they do receive reprimand or punishment but beyond the view of the public… Well…I contend that such a thing is no justice at all. An essential part of the relationship between officers and the public that they are supposedly serving is trust, openness, and honesty. If one hides something from another party…I propose that such an action is direct proof of no trust at all.

If you can’t handle the great responsibility that comes with the great power vested in you… Perhaps it’s time to take off the spidey suit…

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Worried Sick

1 03 2010

I’m just worried sick about my sister in law. I really feel physically ill. I just can’t believe how she has been treated during this affair and I feel so sorry for her and her husband.

I did receive an statement from her husband that I’d like to re-publish here. Perhaps you can read it and see what type of terrible situation this sad state of affairs really is…

For those of you who don’t know, Gina was picked up at the Corpus Christi airport on Friday morning by the Border Patrol.  She was not told why she was arrested, nor was she given any chance to explain her visa situation.  We know now that the original charge was she had overstayed her original tourist visa which was changed in 2006 to a student visa, the paperwork for which was attached to the passport the agent checked at the airport.  Even if the paperwork were not attached, one would think they would have a record of her status as they are an arm of the agency responsible for the granting of visas.  I guess all their computers are just for show.
I drove down to Corpus immediately and in the meantime got in touch with our lawyer.  The lawyer could not believe they picked her up and assured me that she would be released quickly.  She called the station and was told that they would send her the warrant – without which the lawyer did not have clear indication for why they were holding her.  Usually it takes an hour to get the warrant out; they did not release it until 5:30 pm.  Meanwhile, they would not let me see Gina and told me there was nothing I could do and that I should go back to Houston.  Of course I did not.  When I asked why they were holding her, they said they could not tell me specifically, only that her “papers were expired” – no mention of specific visas, etc.  In the meantime, they were telling Gina, who was obviously very upset and scared, that she was going to “be in jail” for at least a week and then probably deported.
I spent several hours in and around the small border patrol office in Corpus communicating with the lawyer and with my family and Gina’s.  When they finally sent the warrant to the lawyer, she immediately faxed them all of the proper documentation which showed Gina had changed her original visa 4 years ago, was still enrolled as a student, and in had married an American citizen.  She demanded that Gina be released or that they present valid charges.  The supervisor,  Officer Franki, said he would have to “check with my superiors”.  Now it is 6 p.m. on Friday…everything is shutting for the weekend, no judges, etc.  Finally Franki gets back to the lawyer and asks, “Why didn’t Gina or Mr. Feighny tell us she was a student?  We probably would have released her this morning.”  When asked why they waited until 5.30 to release the warrant, they did not answer.
Franki went off shift at 6 and a new supervisor came in.  When our attorney pointed out that Gina had the correct paperwork and even sent an email containing a memorandum put out by the Border Patrol stating the policy for dealing with cases such as Gina’s (basically, immediate release), she replied, “Not my problem.  Tell the judge.”  Knowing full well that no judges would be available until Monday.
I left Corpus in the afternoon to go back to Houston to get some further documentation.  The last thing they told me was that she was going to be sent that night (friday) to Willacy County Federal Detention Center where she would have a bed (she spent 18 hours Friday in a small room with a concrete floor and a wooden bench), could receive visitors , and could call whenever she wanted.  Gina’s sister and brother in law came down from Arlington and took up where I left off asking questions in the station.  They were told the same thing I was that they could not discuss the case with us and that she was going to the detention center.
Our lawyer finally had to give up on getting Gina released and began preparing for a bond hearing and/or immigration hearing, which of course, had to wait until Monday.  Over the next several hours, gina’s sister was told that she was either in route or soon to be in route to the Willacy center and that Gina would call us soon and that we could visit her tomorrow (saturday).  I got back to Houston, got all the papers I needed and immediately drove to Raymondville (2 hours south of Corpus) which is where the Willacy facility is, arriving at 7 a.m. this morning.  Carolina and family spent a few hours in a hotel room in Corpus, then met me in Raymondville and we all went over to the center at 1, expecting to be allowed to visit Gina.  When we arrived, we were told that they had no record of Gina nor any record that she was going to be sent there.  I immediately called the Corpus station and was told, “no she’s definitely in Willacy”.  I went back inside the Center and told them that corpus swore she was sent there.  Finally a nice guard took us aside and gave us some numbers to call.  There was never any plan to send gina direclty to the facility, and the “officers’ in Corpus knew it.  She has spent the last 40 hours in 5 different facilities, none of them with a bed, shower, etc.  She has been told constantly that she will be detained from 2 weeks to several months.
Finally we were able to find a kind hearted officer in the Harlingen Border patrol office who told us exactly where she was, her situation, etc.  None of the documents that our attorney faxed to Corpus and were, per policy, to be included in her file that followed her everywhere, were actually put in her file in Corpus.  Basically, they got rid of the paperwork that showed Gina was in status and married to an American.  In addition they lied to us repeatedly about where she was, where she was going, etc.  Worst of all, they knew they had NO REASON to hold/charge her but followed through anyway.  We don’t know why for sure, but some theories: they are not used to being challenged as their usual victims are people with no papers, no family in america, etc.  They were annoyed that they had to deal with a lawyer.  They were annoyed that we would not leave.  They knew they were wrong, but could not/would not admit it. Etc., etc., etc.  Mostly because the people who actually implement the laws are typically bullies with power envy and other psychological problems.  How many of us have been harrassed by police before?  They are the same in America, South America, Africa, everywhere.  Well, a lot of people join the border patrol because THEY WERE NOT ACCEPTED BY A POLICE FORCE!!!
Gina is now in the Willacy center (henceforth referred to as “Hispanic Internment Camp” (think that proud moment in our history: Japanese interment circa 1941; though there’s little chance Colombia or the Dominican Republic will be bombing San Diego anytime soon).  She is in a prison uniform and sleeping in a communal tent.  We have no visitation rights, though she is able to call.  They can move her at any time for any reason and are not required to contact me or our lawyer.  This facility, by the way, is private.  The jail/detention racket brings in billions and companies such as Wackenhut contribute millions to politicians and hire the best lobbyists to keep laws/immigration policy strict so they continue to jail more and more people and thus take in more and more of our tax dollars as profit.  Their political power rivals the oil companies and defense contractors.
Because we were able to get the correct documents put back into her file – through an act of kindness that was actuallly breaking the rules (someone has to break the rules and risk his job in order to do the right thing) – we’re hopeul that she will be let out on Monday.  I guess based on the “Patriot” Act (wonder how Thomas Jefferson would have felt about all this) the border patrol in Corpus can do whatever they want with someone like Gina.  However, their job is to pursue illegal aliens, drug traffickers, etc., not to harass and sabotage a 22-year old student with the correct documentation, no criminal record, etc.  You all know how sweet Gina is.  She is devastated/traumatized by all of this.
I have not slept since it started and am out of my mind with anger and disgust and fear about my own government to which I have always paid my taxes on time and for which my ancestors have served at San Jacinto, Bulll Run and Shiloh (for the north and south), Matamoros (another great moment in American history), Europe 1918, the Pacific 1942-45, and Da Nang, Vietnam.  Seita is going to find out how to lodge a formal complaint against Franki and the other supervisor, Elizabeth DiMarco  Once we get through all of this, i will probably ask you all to write letters, ask you friends to write letters, and ask your friends friends to write letters.  Even though our laws no longer protect us from the predatory agencies our tax dollars fund, we have to try to protect each other.
I agree and concur. Look…I don’t know anyone that is truly “pro-illegal immigration”, but even the hardest of hearts has to believe that all people deserve a basic set of human rights regardless of their nationality, racial make-up, or place of origin. This country needs to get real about priorities and establish some sort of common sense in our rule of law. With the way this country is headed…I fear that revolt or worse will be the only way out if the course is not averted soon. This “complex” he speaks of will only be further ebmoldened by the idiotic and unpatriotic  recent Supreme Court decision that basically opens the coffers wide on political bribery by our corporatocracy the we all live under.
All I can say now is that I am praying constantly for Gina, and for those that hold her, that the light of the Lord might shine on their hearts and that they will come to their senses soon.