Monday, September 26, 2005

Migrant Abuse Costs Rancher Land, Freedom

Letter from Morris Dees,
Chief Counsel, Southern
Poverty Law Center
[Click to enlarge photo]

A letter from Morris Dees, Chief Counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center, describes the “dramatic legal victory” that is at the heart of the debate on Latino immigration. Dees writes

“Two years ago, on a dark Texas night, two Salvadoran migrants looking for work were captured by armed members of the vigilante group Ranch Rescue. While Fatima Leiva and Edwin Mancia were held at gunpoint, Casey Nethercott sicced his Rottweiler on Edwin and beat him with a pistol.

Today, thanks to support from people like you and the bravery of our clients, Nethercott is in jail and Fatima and Edwin own his 70-acre paramilitary compound.

Law enforcement officials and community leaders have praised our work. They recognize that armed vigilantes are a danger to everyone near the border, including border agents trying to uphold the law.

…This is not the first time we’ve seized a hate group’s compound to satisfy a judgment that we won on behalf of the hate crime victims. In 1987, for example, we took the headquarters of the United Klans of America for the lynching death of a black teenager. More recently, we forced the Aryan Nations to deed its Idaho compound to a mother and son who were terrorized by hate group members.

Thoughtful people can have different opinions about how we ought to deal with immigration problems facing our country. But one thing we can all agree on is that violence and racism have no place in that debate.”—Excerpt from Morris Dees letter, September 23, 2005

“Torre John “Jack” Foote, president of Ranch Rescue, has described Mexicans as “dog turds…ignorant, uneducated and desperate…” Such rhetoric is “very similar to (that of) hate groups we have seen in the past,” said SPLC founder Morris Dees, chief trial lawyer in the case.”—Tucson Citizen, August 22, 2005[requires payment]

“Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva were caught on a ranch in Hebbronville, Tex., in March 2003 by Mr. Nethercott and other members of Ranch Rescue. The two immigrants later accused Mr. Nethercott of threatening them and of hitting Mr. Mancía with a pistol, charges that Mr. Nethercott denied. The immigrants also said the group gave them cookies, water and a blanket and let them go after an hour or so.

The Salvadorans testified against Mr. Nethercott when he was tried by Texas prosecutors. The jury deadlocked on a charge of pistol-whipping but convicted Mr. Nethercott, who had previously served time in California for assault, of gun possession, which is illegal for a felon. He is now serving a five-year sentence in a Texas prison.

Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva also filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nethercott; Jack Foote, the founder of Ranch Rescue; and the owner of the Hebbronville ranch, Joe Sutton. The immigrants said the ordeal, in which they feared that they would be killed by the men they thought were soldiers, had left them with post-traumatic stress.

Mr. Sutton settled for $100,000. Mr. Nethercott and Mr. Foote did not defend themselves, so the judge issued default judgments of $850,000 against Mr. Nethercott and $500,000 against Mr. Foote.”-- 2 Illegal Immigrants Win Arizona Ranch in Court By ANDREW POLLACK New York Times, August 19, 2005

Aberrational? Outlandish? Bunch of hicks we would never associate with?

At a birthday party for my elementary school daughter last year, one
of her friends’ dad began to explain to me, in raw disgusting language, about
the influx of the “cockroach Mexicans and their cocksucking families,” --was how he described the immigration situation in Southern California. How he
thought it was OK to use that language to me, someone whom he had never met, made me believe that for most of my neighbors, that thinking and general belief is acceptable.

At the request of Mr. Dees’ post script in his letter, I share this story with anyone willing to read it, in the hope that it will help educate, and rid us of ignorance:

“Please share [this] with friends and speak out against the kind of racist, xenophobic violence that is spreading in our country.

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