Special to North of the Fence
Last Friday, North of the Fence published information about the apprehension of the Francisco Duarte and Rosenda Perez who are currently in custody pending immigration hearings, leaving their four children on their own in National City.
The facts unfolded almost moment-to-moment last week, not all of them immediately accurate. On Wednesday morning, the National City Elementary Teachers Association, run by volunteer teachers who also work full-time, received calls and information saying a mother and father had been detained by ICE while dropping their students off at Las Palmas Elementary School.
Later, it was found ICE was not involved. Instead, U.S. Border Patrol confirmed they were the ones who arrested Francisco Duarte at 7:30am as he was exiting a liquor store near the intersection of Palm Avenue and E. 18th Street in National City. Google maps show that a Bottles & More Liquor, as well as a 7-Eleven exist on Palm Avenue and E. 18th Street. These establishments are both 0.2 miles from Las Palmas Elementary School.
The National City Elementary Teachers Association felt they needed to issue a Media Advisory since teachers had already received a confirmed case of a mother who was deported to Tijuana during the last two weeks, leaving her son behind. Such cases create panic and fear among teachers and their students, compromising the learning environment. Children come to school in tears, upsetting other children, especially when 63% of National City residents identify on census records as Hispanic.
Community advocate Mark Lane was called in to help the children of the family. In a video, the four children spoke of their parent’s apprehension with bewilderment. From their video, the two girls (both age twelve) were eating breakfast when they saw their mother being arrested outside their home.
The Border Patrol statement is unclear whether the two girls were left alone at home for a period while Rosenda called the couple’s 19-year-old son, or if they called and waited for him to arrive. It appears from the video that the 17-year-old son had already left for the morning and only returned once the 19-year-old son had arrived to take care of his siblings.
The Border Patrol Public Affairs Officers emailed the following:
The U.S. Border Patrol confirms the arrest of Francisco Duarte-Tineo, 51, on May 23, 2017 at about 7:30 a.m., as he was exiting a liquor store near the intersection of Palm Ave. and E. 18th St. in National City, Calif. Shortly thereafter, agents arrested Duarte-Tineo’s 48-year-old wife, Rosenda Perez-Pelcastre at the couple’s residence on Palm Ave. in National City. After her arrest, Perez-Pelcastre requested the couple’s 19-year-old son assume care of their 17-year-old son and two twelve-year-old daughters. Agents also allowed Duarte-Tineo to visit with his 19-year-old son, at which time arrangements were made regarding the care of the minor siblings.
Duarte-Tineo and Perez-Pelcastre were both subjects of a Border Patrol investigation regarding their suspected involvement as stash house operators for a transnational human smuggling organization.
Duarte-Tineo and Perez-Pelcastre have both been charged with immigration violations and were processed for removal proceedings. They are currently in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement pending their immigration hearings.
We cannot provide any further information than what is in the statement what I can tell you is that no criminal charges were filed against Duarte and Perez.
A spokesperson for the family denies that the parents were involved in any criminal activity and explained the parents had no criminal record.
The Welcoming Proclamation vs. Sanctuary Cities
In National City, on February 7th Mayor Ron Morrison presented a “substitute” resolution that scrubbed the words “Welcoming,” “Immigrant” and “Refugee.” At a later meeting, Morrison explained that an outside group had been pushing for National City to become a welcoming community and he did not want an outside group dictating and defining National City.
What he meant by “outside forces” can only be surmised. Could it be the Mayor is against the Clinton Foundation’s Welcoming Cities Initiative? Could it be that Welcoming American Inc has someone objectionable to him on its 990 Form?
Note that Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and National City are not sanctuary cities. Imperial Beach did issue a Welcoming Proclamation, but experienced an intense backlash from residents and had to rescind it. The city of Chula Vista passed a Welcoming Resolution but fell short of calling itself a sanctuary city.
A Union-Tribune article explained the difference between sanctuary and welcoming cities:
Welcoming cities differ from sanctuary cities, in that sanctuary cities involve local law enforcement and immigration enforcement. Welcoming cities encourage the integration of immigrants into the community but do not offer special protections from immigration enforcement.
The City of Chula Vista did say it would quickly support the sanctuary state bill if it were to pass. As explained by the Union-Tribune: “Senate Bill 54 would limit state and local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities and calls for schools, hospitals, and courthouse to be free from federal immigration enforcement.”
An important factual point must be made here. The main provision of a sanctuary city is that local police forces will not cooperate with federal authorities, such as Border Patrol and ICE. A Welcoming Cities Proclamation does not state this.
Nevertheless, I called the National City Police Department and they emphatically explained that they had no knowledge of Duarte and Perez’s arrests by Border Patrol.
Chris Sullivan, one of the Public Affairs Officers at NCPD said, “They were never detained by us. We did not know about it until way after the fact.”
Furthermore, with or without welcoming proclamations or sanctuary status, undocumented residents in our communities do have constitutional rights. The ACLU has an entire package that details everything you need to know to protect your constitutional rights.
A spokesperson has told me the Duarte family does have an attorney. (This is part of their constitutional right.)
Is Sanctuary City Status Possible For National City?
Interestingly, in 2006 Mayor Nick Inzunza declared NC a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants by unilaterally issuing a Mayor’s Proclamation.
According to Chula Vista Star-News from October 2006, Ron Morrison was opposed. He was quoted as saying, “It did not benefit immigrants, it did not benefit the city, it did not benefit our businesses,” he said. “It was only done as a manufactured publicity stunt. He did so much damage to the city, and all because he wanted to get on CNN and MSNBC.”
Other newspaper reports in 2006 show that the entire city council, as well as many members of the community, were outraged by the Proclamation as well.
In an interview with the Chula Vista Star-News on September 29, 2006, Nick Inzunza explained his decision in a Q&A with a journalist. I have transcribed parts of the newspaper article here:
Q. How will the sanctuary work?
A. I think the sanctuary is already working. I’m not creating law. I’m not asking my council to take a vote. The sanctuary works by the sheer fact that everybody understand the constitutional rights and they’re going to enforce those rights. The problem has been that other mayors and council members (in the county) don’t want to do that. They want to change the law to now allow people to stand on the street and look for work, changing ordinances on how landlords rent. Congressman Bilbray wants to change the law not to allow people born in this country, not to give them citizenship.
If anybody comes in here including my officers and violates your civil liberties, your civil rights of a resident in my town we will know. If 100 Minutemen come in to National City Boulevard, we’re going to have 100 people confronting them and let them know you’re not welcome here.
Q. How are people being targeted?
A. You take the Minutemen. They are identified by SDMM-San Diego Minute Men – on their shirts like they’re the DEA, the FBI. They are essentially creating a vigilante group to go after people who have a Mexican background that are Americans. It’s appalling when you have a congressman who supports this activity. It is appalling when you have other mayor and council members adopted new laws to empower these individuals. I’m talking about people of my ethnic background having their civil rights and human rights and civil liberties violated by other Americans because of their ethnicity.
It’s a consistent problem. People have told me that they do go into apartment complexes. It’s happening all over the county.
Q. What is your stance on the illegal immigrants?
A. I’m a local official, that’s not my issue. Neither is border security, Homeland Security, terrorism. I’m talking about people that are living here in my city that are being harassed and being profiled.
Ninety percent of my community is Mexican-American and Filipino-American. Many are legally in this country. Some are not, but you can’t have vigilante groups violating people’s civil liberties by ethnically profiling them and going after them simply to find one person that doesn’t have their papers.