Category Archives: Immigration

President Trump Wall

President Trump Wall

I will make Mexico pay…

June 16, 2015: Donald Trump announced his campaign for the presidency and first mentioned his idea to build a southern border wall.

I will build a great wall ― and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me ―and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.

Throughout his campaign, Trump regularly used a call and response with his crowds to reinforce his promise to build a wall and vilified immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America.

President Trump Wall

It’s not a fence…

August 25, 2015: Candidate Trump tweeted: Jeb Bush just talked about my border proposal to build a “fence.” It’s not a fence, Jeb, it’s a WALL, and there’s a BIG difference!

April 1, 2016: Candidate Trump tweeted: We must build a great wall between Mexico and the United States!

Aug. 31, 2016 — Candidate Trump met in Mexico City with Pena Nieto. The subject of who will pay for the border wall did not come up. At a news conference following their meeting, Pena Nieto said the bilateral relationship should be based on mutual respect.

September 1, 2016: Candidate Trump tweeted: Mexico will pay for the wall – 100%! #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #ImWithYou

November 10, 2016:  two days after the election Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani stated in a CNN interview that President-elect Trump doesn’t need the support of Congress to build the wall; he can simply accomplish it through executive order. He also maintained that large portions of the wall have already been approved:

“The wall is going to take a while. Obviously he’s going to build it. It’s a campaign promise. He’s not going to break a campaign promise..he can do it by executive order by just reprogramming money within the, within the immigration service…And not only that, they have actually approved a wall for certain portions of the border that hasn’t even been built yet. So you could take a year building that out, with what has been approved.”

President Trump Wall

A fence would be OK…

November 13, 2016: Trump appeared on 60 Minutes. He said a fence would be OK, too.

STAHL (60 Minutes): You’re— you know, they are talking about a fence in the Republican Congress, would you accept a fence?

TRUMP: For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction…there could be some fencing. 

January 11, 2017: after repeating many times that Mexico would pay for the wall and in what would turn out to be the first of many contentious press conferences, President Trump clarified that Mexico might not be paying the upfront costs for the wall after all.

I want to get the wall started. I don’t want to wait a year and a half until I make my deal with Mexico. They will reimburse us for the cost of the wall, whether it’s a tax or whether it’s a payment. Probably less likely that it’s a payment.”

President Trump Wall

Mexico will pay back later…

January 6, 2017: President Trump tweeted: The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!

January 24, 2017: President Trump tweeted: Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!

January 25, 2017:President Trump issued an executive order entitled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements“. It declared:

In accordance with existing law, including the Secure Fence Act and IIRIRA, take all appropriate steps to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border;

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto then responded in an official address. He stated:

I am dismayed by and condemn the decision made by the United States to continue building a wall that for many years, far from uniting us, has divided us. Mexico does not believe in walls. I have said it again and again: Mexico will not pay for any wall.

January 26, 2017: Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, cancelled his scheduled meeting with President Donald J. Trump in Washington the following week, rejecting the visit after Trump ordered a border wall between the two nations.

President Trump Wall

Cost questioned

February 6, 2017: some Republican lawmakers  expressed skepticism that the border wall was worth the price tag and asked that Trump offer off-sets for the cost.

Texas Senator, John Cornyn said: “I have concerns about spending un-offset money, which adds to the debt, period. I don’t think we’re just going to be able to solve border security with a physical barrier because people can come under, around it and through it.”

February 9, 2017: a leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security put the cost of building the wall (and fencing) at around three times as much as Trump originally estimated, $21 billion in total, and estimates that construction would take at least three years to complete. The report did not take into account “major physical barriers, like mountains, in areas where it would not be feasible to build.”

February 24, 2017: via the website FedBizOpps.gov the federal government posted their intention to request proposals from construction companies on March 6 to build the wall. The posting read:

The Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends on issuing a solicitation in electronic format on or about March 6, 2017 for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico. The procurement will be conducted in two phases, the first requiring vendors to submit a concept paper of their prototype(s) by March 10, 2017, which will result in the evaluation and down select of offerors by March 20, 2017. The second phase will require the down select of phase 1 offerors to submit proposals in response to the full RFP by March 24, 2017, which will include price. Multiple awards are contemplated by mid-April for this effort. An option for additional miles may be included in each contract award.

The deadline was eventually delayed until April 4.

President Trump Wall

A Great Wall…

February 28, 2016: In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Trump declared:

We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders…For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.

March 16, 2017: President Trump unveiled his budget blueprint for 2018, which included $2.6 billion for the wall. In the spending outline for the Department of Homeland Security it read:

The President’s 2018 Budget…Secures the borders of the United States by investing $2.6 billion in high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology, including funding to plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border

He also requests $1.5 billion to be added to spending for the current fiscal year. The administration began to that the funding for the wall be tied to the spending bills aimed at preventing government shutdown at the end of April.

President Trump Wall

A solar wall…

June 21, 2017: Trump told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, “We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall so it creates energy and pays for itself and this way Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that’s good, right? Is that good?

The solar wall idea was later abandoned.

President Trump Wall

A see-thru wall…

July 12, 2017: Trump added a new component to the wall: it had to be see-through. And, for the first time, he proposed a “steel wall with openings.”

One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One. “So it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.

“When they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them – they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over.

January 11, 2018: Trump explained to The Wall Street Journal that border officials told him “they need see-through” and indicated a concrete wall might be the wrong thing because of that.

We need a form of fence or window,” Trump said.

If you have a wall this thick and it’s solid concrete from ground to 32 feet high, which is a high wall, much higher than people planned. You go 32 feet up and you don’t know who’s over here,” he explained. “If you don’t know who’s there, you’ve got a problem.”

He also said the wall did not need to run the course of the entire border because of natural barriers. But he also insisted “the wall’s identical” to what he promised on the campaign trail.

January 18, 2018: “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it,” Trump tweeted in response to a Washington Post report that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had said “a concrete wall from sea to shining sea” was not going to happen and that Trump’s campaign promises about the wall were “uninformed.”

President Trump Wall

A perfecto wall…

March 13, 2018: President Trump reviewed eight prototypes  for the wall in San Diego during a visit to the border.

All of the designs were concrete, but only one included the see-through component Trump said was necessary. He also repeated the need for a tall wall, comparing some migrants to “professional mountain climbers.”

We want to make it perfecto,” he said of the wall.

President Trump Wall

Proud to shut down the government…

December 11, 2018: President Trump Meeting with Democratic Leaders. President Trump said he would be proud to “shut down the government for border security” in an Oval Office exchange with  then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The leaders went back and forth over border security, building the wall, and the congressional support and votes needed to pass funding legislation on this issue.  [full transcript of meeting]

December 21, 2018: President Trump shared a design of a tall fence on Twitter, which he referred to as a “Steel Slat Barrier.”

“Totally effective while at the same time beautiful!” he said.

President Trump Wall

Partial shutdown commences

December 22, 2018: with Democratic leaders refusing to provide funds for President Trump’s wall project and President Trump refusing to negotiate to  a budget compromise, a partial shutdown of the federal government began.

December 25, 2018: President Trump said, “”I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want. But it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into our country.”

December 31, 2018: “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media,” President Trump tweeted ahead of New Year’s Eve. “Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!”

The president was evidently reacting to a Los Angeles Times interview in which Kelly said, “To be honest, it’s not a wall.”

“The president still says ‘wall’ – oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it,” Kelly told the Times.

President Trump Wall

The Wall is coming

President Trump Wall

January 5, 2019: with Trump and the Democratic leadership remaining adamant in their positions on building a wall, in a tweet President Trump referenced the popular Game of Thrones slogan, Winter Is Coming, with “The Wall is Coming,” with a picture of himself over the wall.

January 6, 2019:President Trump tweeted, “”We are now planning a Steel Barrier rather than concrete. It is both stronger & less obtrusive. Good solution, and made in the U.S.A.”

January 8, 2019: President Trump made a national address  on the escalating controversy over U.S.-Mexico border wall funding, which was continued to cause a partial federal government shutdown.

January 9, 2019: President Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not fund a border wall even if he agreed to reopen the government, escalating a confrontation that has shuttered large portions of the government for 19 days and counting.

Democrats emerged from the meeting in the White House Situation Room declaring that the president had thrown a “temper tantrum” and slammed his hands on the table before leaving with an abrupt “bye-bye.” Republicans disputed the hand slam and blamed Democratic intransigence for prolonging the standoff.

January 10, 2019: as the government shutdown neared the end of its third week and with no additional negotiations scheduled with congressional leaders, President Trump left Washington to visit the southern border.

In brief remarks to reporters Trump left open the possibility of declaring a state of emergency, which could allow him to bypass Congress to fund the wall.

President Trump Wall

Let’s Make a Deal

January 19, 2019: President Trump announced that he would extend deportation protections for some undocumented immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico.

The president said he would extend the legal status of those facing deportation and support bipartisan legislation that would allow some immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children, known as Dreamers, to keep their work permits and be protected from deportation for three more years if they were revoked.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said ahead of his remarks that she considered his proposal a “nonstarter,” in part because it offered no permanent pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

No Deal

January 25, 2019: Trump agreed to reopen the federal government for three weeks while negotiations continued over how to secure the nation’s southwestern border, backing down after a monthlong standoff failed to force Democrats to give him billions of dollars for his long-promised wall.

February 2019

New Mexico Troop withdrawal

February 5, 2019: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico ordered the withdrawal of the majority of the state’s National Guard troops from the U.S. border with Mexico, in a move that challenges President Trump’s description of a security crisis.

Grisham announced the partial withdrawal shortly before Trump’s State of the Union address. Her Republican predecessor deployed National Guard troops to the border in April 2018 at Trump’s suggestion, and 118 remained there before Tuesday’s reversal.

“New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

At the same time, the governor said a small contingent — around a dozen guardsmen — will remain in the southwestern corner of the state to assist with humanitarian needs in a remote corridor for cross-border immigration. She also mobilized state police to assist local law enforcement.

California Troop withdrawal

February 11, 2019: Gov. Gavin Newsom of California ordered the withdrawal of nearly 400 of his state’s National Guard troops from deployment along the border with Mexico and assigned them to other duties.

The step to rescind state authorization for the border deployment was a sharp rebuke of President Trump’s continued warnings that undocumented migrants present a national security risk to the United States.

Under a “general order,”110 California National Guard troops would be redirected to support the state’s central fire agency, Cal Fire, and another 100 will work on statewide “intelligence operations” aimed at international criminal drug gangs.

“National Emergency”

February 15, 2019: President Trump declared a national emergency on the border with Mexico in order to access billions of dollars that Congress refused to give him to build a wall there, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a confrontation over the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.

Trying to regain momentum after losing a grinding two-month battle with lawmakers over funding the wall, Mr. Trump asserted that the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants from Mexico constituted a profound threat to national security that justified unilateral action.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it one way or the other,” he said in a televised statement in the Rose Garden barely 13 hours after Congress passed a spending measure without the money he had sought. “It’s an invasion,” he added. “We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.”

Emergency challenged

February 18, 2019: a coalition of 16 states challenged President Trump in court over his plan to use emergency powers to spend billions of dollars on his border wall.

The suit, filed in Federal District Court in San Francisco, argued that the president did not have the power to divert funds for constructing a wall along the Mexican border because it was Congress that controls spending. [Read the full lawsuit here.]

House votes to overturn emergency

February 26, 2019: the House voted to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the Mexican border, with just 13 Republicans joining Democrats to try to block his effort to divert funding to a border wall without congressional approval.

House Republican leaders kept defections low after feverishly working to assuage concerns among rank-and-file members about protecting congressional powers and about the precedent that Trump could be setting for Democratic presidents to use for their own purposes.

March 2019

“Shoot them in the legs”

In March 2019: at an Oval Office meeting, President Trump ordered advisors to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him. [NYT article]

Money for the Wall

March 10, 2019: President Trump requested $8.6 billion in the annual budget proposal for a border wall. He also asked Congress for another $3.6 billion to replenish military construction funds he had diverted to begin work on the wall by declaring a national emergency, for a total of $12.2 billion.

Senate votes to overturn emergency

March 14, 2019: the Senate easily voted to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border, delivering a bipartisan rebuke to what lawmakers in both parties deemed executive overreach by a president determined to build his border wall over Congress’s objections.

The 59-41 vote on the House-passed measure set up the first veto of Trump’s presidency. It was not overwhelming enough to override Mr. Trump’s promised veto, but Congress has now voted to block a presidential emergency declaration for the first time — and on one of the core promises that animated Mr. Trump’s political rise, the vow to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway,” Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said. “The problem with this is that after a Revolutionary War against a king, our nation’s founders gave to Congress the power to approve all spending so that the president would not have too much power. This check on the executive is a crucial source of our freedom.”

Veto

March 15, 2019: as he had said he would, President Trump vetoed the bill denying his declaration of a national emergency.

No override

March 26, 2019: the House failed to overturn President Trump’s veto, leaving the declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border intact despite the bipartisan passage of a resolution attempting to nullify the president’s circumvention of Congress to fund his border wall.

The 248-to-181 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to kill the national emergency declaration.

Litigation stops funds

US District Court

May 24, 2019: Judge Haywood Gilliam of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction that prevented the Trump administration from redirecting funds under the national emergency declaration issued on February 15.

Gilliam, who is overseeing a pair of lawsuits over border wall financing, ruled that the administration’s efforts likely overstepped the president’s statutory authority.

The injunction applied specifically to some of the money the administration intended to allocate from other agencies, and it limited wall construction projects in El Paso, Tex., and Yuma, Ariz.

The ruling quoted from a Fox News interview with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, in which he said that the wall “is going to get built, with or without Congress.”

US Appeals Court

July 3, 2019: the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld a block on President Trump’s attempt to use $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense to construct a wall along the southwestern border.

The divided three-judge panel agreed with a lower court’s decision that ruled the Trump administration did not have the authority to reallocate the funds without congressional approval. The administration immediately appealed.

Two of the three judges on the panel affirmed that the administration could not build the barriers during future challenges.

“We conclude that it is best served by respecting the Constitution’s assignment of the power of the purse to Congress, and by deferring to Congress’s understanding of the public interest as reflected in its repeated denial of more funding for border barrier construction.”

Supreme Court

July 26, 2019:  the Supreme Court gave President Trump a victory in his fight for a wall along the Mexican border by allowing the administration to begin using $2.5 billion in Pentagon money for the construction.

In a 5-to-4 ruling, the court overturned an appellate decision and said that the administration could tap the money while litigation over the matter proceeds. But that will most likely take many months or longer, allowing Mr. Trump to move ahead before the case returns to the Supreme Court after further proceedings in the appeals court.

Second Veto

October 15, 2019: President Trump issued his second veto against legislation seeking to end his national emergency at the southwestern border, rejecting bipartisan objections to his efforts to obtain funds for a border wall.

His veto returned the resolution to Congress where it was unlikely to garner the two-thirds majority needed there to override the veto.

The announcement came exactly seven months after Trump had issued the first veto of his presidency against a nearly identical resolution that would have terminated the national emergency. He declared the emergency earlier this year after Congress declined to designate money for his border wall; he has sought to allocated funds from other government agencies to the southwestern border.

Trump, announcing the veto, noted that he had vetoed the earlier measure “because it was a dangerous resolution that would undermine United States sovereignty and threaten the lives and safety of countless Americans.” [NYT article]

Cutting through the wall

November 2, 2019: according to the Washington Post, smugglers were using a commercial saw to cut through newly built sections of the president’s wall— which is made of steel bollards that are partially filled with concrete.

The tool can cut through the wall’s steel and concrete in minutes when fitted with the appropriate blades, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have said. After cutting the steel bollards, smugglers have taken to returning them to their original positions in hope of reusing the passage without being detected by border officials.

Agents mended the breach, however, repaired sections are still targeted by smugglers, as it was easier to cut through the welded metal than to make new cuts. And the repair policy had also been targeted by smugglers who attempt to fool agents into believing a severed bollard has been fixed by applying putty to the site of the cut. [VOX story]

 

President Trump Wall
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Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

March 16, 1983 – July 14, 2008

Luis Ramirez had came to the U.S. from Mexico in 2002 when he was 19 to look for work. He settled in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia where other Mexicans had found field and factory work.

Ramirez found steady employment, fathered two children and, occasionally endured harassment by long-time white residents.

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Shenandoah, PA

On July 12, 2008, a group of Shenandoah Valley High School Blue Devils  football players beat Luis Ramirez. 

Shenandoah Borough Manager Joseph Palubinsky said he did not believe Ramirez’s ethnicity was what prompted the fight: “I have reason to know the kids who were involved, the families who were involved, and I’ve never known them to harbor this type of feeling.”

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

On July 14, Ramirez died from head injuries.

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Arrests

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez
Derrick Donchak, Brandon Piekarsky,and Colin Walsh,

On July 25 police arrested Brandon Piekarsky, 19, and Colin Walsh, 17, both white.  

The attack drew condemnation from immigrants’ rights groups, who  held vigils in Shenandoah.

The Justice Department opened an investigation into the case.

August 19, 2008: State Judge Anthony Kilker ruled that prosecutors had enough evidence to try Walsh and Piekarsky on charges of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation. Donchak was ordered to stand trial on aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation and other counts.

August 26, 2008:  bail was set at $50,000 each for Piekarsky and Walsh. They had been held without bail since their arrests on July 25.

A third defendant, Derrick Donchak was charged with aggravated assault and other offenses. He posted bail soon after his arrest. (NYT article)

November 27, 2008:  Judge, William Baldwin of Schuylkill County, ruled that charges of third-degree murder against Piekarsky and Walsh were warranted. Baldwin also let stand the aggravated-assault count against  Donchak, but dismissed a hindering-apprehension charge against him.

The three were also charged with ethnic intimidation because the authorities say the attack on Ramirez was racially motivated. (NYT article)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Walsh Guilty plea

April 8, 2009, : Colin Walsh pleaded guilty to one felony violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act for his role in aiding and abetting Piekarsky and  Donchak in the beating death. 

April 21, 2009: local charges were dropped against Walsh because he had entered the guilty plea to charges in federal court. (NYT article)

April 28, 2009: Walsh testified against Piekarsky and Donchak. When asked on the witness stand, Walsh said that his federal deal called for nine years in federal prison, but that he could be out in four because of his cooperation. (NYT article)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

All-white jury

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

May 2, 2009:  an all-white jury acquitted Piekarsky  of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation, and Derrick Donchak of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation.

Both were convicted of simple assault.

Prosecutors had described Luis Ramirez as the victim of a gang of drunken white teenagers motivated by their dislike of their small coal town’s burgeoning Hispanic population.

Defense lawyers called Ramirez the aggressor and accused the district attorney’s office of twisting the facts. (NYT article)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Following PA trial

A May 16, 2009 NYT article described several incidents in Shanandoah following the trial.  Several white students threatened Felix Bermejo that he was next.  The car of Eileen Burke was egged. Burke, a former Philadelphia police officer, had said she believed that local police had mishandled the case. A fight broke out between a white group and a mixed black and Latino group.

June 19, 2009: Judge William Baldwin of Schuylkill County sentenced each sentenced Piekarsky and Donchakto at least six months behind bars.  Baldwin said that the sentences exceeded the usual sentencing guidelines but that they reflected the “absolute brutality and viciousness” of the attack on Ramirez. Baldwin also said he could not consider the racial overtones of the case and the fact that Ramirez died. (NYT article)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Federal government steps in

December 15, 2009: federal prosecutors charged Police Chief Matthew Nestor, Lt. William Moyer and Officer Jason Hayes with obstruction of justice in connection with their handling of the investigation of the beating death of Ramirez.

Piekarsky and Donchakto were indicted on federal hate crime charges.

The officers were called to the scene of the beating on the night, but prosecutors alleged they were closely linked to the boys: Hayes was in a relationship with Piekarsky’s mother who was also a good friend of Nestor, while Moyer’s son played in the football team with the students. (NYT article)

The officers were alleged to have let the students go, even given them lifts in a police car away from the crime scene. They then encouraged them to “get their story straight” and tampered with evidence to make their detection more difficult. (Guardian article)

December 22, 2009: in federal court, Piekarsky and Derrick Piekarsky and Donchak were arraigned in Wilkes-Barre, PA, charged with hate crimes. They  pleaded not guilty. (NYT article)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Convictions

October 14, 2010: the federal jury in Scranton, PA convicted Donchak and Piekarsky of a hate crime arising out of the fatal beating of Ramirez.

The jury found the defendants guilty of violating the criminal component of the federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it a crime to use a person’s race, national origin or ethnicity as a basis to interfere, with violence or threats of violence, with a person’s right to live where he chooses to live. 

A jury had previously acquitted both of murder charges in state court and convicted of simple assault.

“…people attacked one person because of his race and because they didn’t want people like him living in their town,” prosecutor Myesha K. Braden had said during her closing argument.

Witnesses had testified that racist language was used before and during the attack and that Ramirez was kicked in the head repeatedly after falling down. The defendants, they said, didn’t want immigrants in their neighborhood and repeatedly ordered Ramirez to leave.

Local authorities helped cover Local authorities helped cover up the incident. Braden said, “They hatched a plan to leave out the kick, to leave out the race and even to leave out the drinking.” (NYT article) (sentencing see February 27, 2011 below)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Police trial

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez
Former Police Chief Matthew Nestor, Patroman Jason Hayes and Lt William Moyer

January 13, 2011, the trial of officers Nestor, Hayes, and Moyer on charges of obstructing justice in the beating death of Ramirez began. (NYT article)

January 27, 2011: a federal jury convicted Matthew Nestor, the  Shenandoah police chief at the time of the murder, of the most serious charge against him in what prosecutors said was a cover-up of the beating death of Ramirez.

The jury delivered a less severe verdict against a Moyer and acquitted a Hayes.

Authorities had accused the former officers, Matthew Nestor, Jason Hayes and William Moyer, of helping a group of the white teenagers cover up their parts in the beating death Ramírez.

Nestor was found guilty of falsifying records, a charge that could bring up to 20 years in prison, but he was acquitted of conspiracy. Moyer, a former Shenandoah lieutenant, was convicted of lying to the F.B.I., but acquitted of all other counts, including obstruction of justice, and he faced up to five years in prison. Hayes, a former patrolman, was acquitted of all charges. (NYT article)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Sentencing

February 27, 2011: a judge sentenced Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky to nine years in prison.  (CNN article)

June 1, 2011: Judge A. Richard Caputo of Federal District Court in Wilkes-Barre, Pa sentenced Nestor 13 months in prison–a lower-than-expected term.

Caputo  said the sentencing guidelines were too harsh for Nestor. A presentencing report by probation officials had recommended 57 to 71 months.

Caputo sentenced Moyer to three months. (PennLive article)

June 18, 2012:  a three-judge panel decided that Donchak and  Piekarsky must stay in federal prison for their hate-crime convictions.

In a 34-page opinion, the panel ruled there was no basis to overturn the convictions of either Donchak or Piekarsky.

“We therefore affirm the final conviction, judgment and sentence,” U.S. Circuit Judge Julio M. Fuentes wrote in the court’s opinion, which was joined by the other panel members, U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Theodore A. McKee and U.S. Circuit Judge Kent A. Jordan. (Republican Herald article)

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez

Documentary

April 20, 2013: David Turnley’s documentary”Shenandoah” released.  A NYT article stated that, “Turnley spent four years burrowing into the lives of people on all sides of the story, whether the burly football players who participated in the attack, their parents who struggled to understand it, or Mr. Ramirez’s family both in Shenandoah and in Mexico.”

October 17, 2013: a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the federal hate-crime convictions of Donchak and Piekarsky.

Immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramirez
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Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Declan O'Rourke Indian Meal

It is easy to think that during the Great Irish Famine–caused mainly by the potato blight–that there was no other food available to the starving.

That was not the case.

As noted in previous posts (A, B, C, & D), the British landlords of Ireland controlled most of the land and used the best pastures for raising animals which the owners exported to England and other places.

In other words, there was food, but British bias permitted an acceptance of what most today would label genocide.

There’s ships leavin’ full of pigs, heifers, and lambs

Some transportin’ convicts to Van Diemaen’s Land

We’re hemorrhagin’ barrels of butter and grain

And all that comes back in and all that remains is…

Indian meal, Indian meal, Indian meal.

(Van Diemen’s Land was the original name used for the island of Tasmania, now part of Australia.)

 

Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Indian Meal

Declan O'Rourke Indian Meal
Famine meal ticket

The fifth song of Declan O’Rourke’s Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine album is “Indian Meal.” Once again, the melody belies the message.

The seemingly happy-go-lucky step-dancing tune carries a bitter message: your potato is gone. Be satisfied with what you can find.

In the midst of the famine, the English changed leadership and charged Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan with famine relief.

Declan O'Rourke Indian Meal
Charles Edward Trevelyan

According to the History Place site, “ Trevelyan ordered the closing of the food depots in Ireland that had been selling…Indian corn. He also rejected another boatload of Indian corn already headed for Ireland. His reasoning, as he explained in a letter, was to prevent the Irish from becoming “habitually dependent” on the British government. His openly stated desire was to make “Irish property support Irish poverty.”

Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Penny a pound

Despite that laissez-faire policy, corn meal did become one of the things that the starving Irish did have access to.

Somewhat.

For a penny a pound. Storehouses often stayed full of Indian meal because the starving who literally stood outside the storehouse,  had no money.

Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Bothar bui–Yellow Road

They’re pavin’ the streets of Americay

With gold at your feet for a dollar a day

While here on the works we make botharin bui

For the yella’ or barely a shillin’ a piece.

Road workers, in lieu of cash, accepted Indian meal as payment. Ironically, at the same time that myth described the streets of America as “paved with gold,” many roads of Ireland became known as “yellow roads” because workers survived–barely–on the yellow corn meal.

Some rural Irish roads today still contain the name Bothar bui.

For the majority of the Irish, daily life was often a torturous path to death by disease due to starvation.

Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal

Nicholas Cummins

Again from the History Place site: Nicholas Cummins, the magistrate of Cork, visited the hard-hit coastal district of Skibbereen. “I entered some of the hovels,” he wrote, “and the scenes which presented themselves were such as no tongue or pen can convey the slightest idea of. In the first, six famished and ghastly skeletons, to all appearances dead, were huddled in a corner on some filthy straw, their sole covering what seemed a ragged horsecloth, their wretched legs hanging about, naked above the knees. I approached with horror, and found by a low moaning they were alive — they were in fever, four children, a woman and what had once been a man. It is impossible to go through the detail. Suffice it to say, that in a few minutes I was surrounded by at least 200 such phantoms, such frightful spectres as no words can describe, [suffering] either from famine or from fever. Their demoniac yells are still ringing in my ears, and their horrible images are fixed upon my brain.”

Declan O’Rourke Indian Meal
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