Entries in Latinos (7)


Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Racial Profiling Trial Begins

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A civil rights trial against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-styled "America's Toughest Sheriff," began Thursday in which Arpaio and his department stand accused of racially profiling Latinos in Maricopa County.

The class-action suit, which started with a complaint by a retired Mexican schoolteacher who was stopped in Arizona in 2007, has grown to encompass all Latinos who were stopped without probable cause from 2007 until the present.

"It's our view that the problem starts at the top," said Stan Young, an attorney for the plaintiffs, at the start of the federal trial Thursday.

Plaintiffs are not asking for damages, but rather an apology from the department and a change in policy.  If found guilty, Arpaio will not face jail time or fines.

"The point is to reform the practices of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and get them to stop racial profiling people because they're Latino," said Omar Jadwat, a senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants Rights Project, which is representing the plaintiffs.  "As Americans, we expect we're not going to be stopped because of how we look and sound, that we're not going to be arrested because of our race."

Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres was visiting Arizona from Mexico and had been carrying his visa, Mexican identification and permit when the car he was riding in was pulled over by police in Queen Creek, Ariz., five years ago.  Officers informed him that he was stopped for speeding but did not give him a citation or take him into custody.

Ortega, one of several passengers, was asked to produce identification and obliged.  Even though he produced the necessary papers to prove he was in the country legally, Ortega said he was told to exit the vehicle.

"After exiting the vehicle, the officers pushed Mr. Ortega against a Sheriff's Department vehicle and patted him down over his entire body in a rough manner," court documents stated.

Officers removed everything from Ortega's pockets and kept him handcuffed for 40 minutes before he was driven to the Sheriff's Office in Cave Creek and placed in a holding cell for four hours with no explanation as to why he'd been arrested.  He was not given access to an attorney, phone or food, court documents stated.

He was cuffed again and driven to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, where he was once again placed in a holding cell for one hour, according to court documents.  An immigration official took a look at Ortega's identification and told him he was free to go.

"Mr. Ortega is frightened to walk on the street or be seen in public in Maricopa County because he fears that the sheriff's officers will come and arrest him again because he is Hispanic and does not speak English," court documents stated.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.

Arpaio is expected to take the stand at some point during the bench trial.

The U.S. Justice Department has also filed a separate suit against Arpaio, alleging discriminatory policing, use of excessive force, running the county's jail unconstitutionally and taking illegal action to silence critics.  A trial date has not been set.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


LGBT, Latino Donors Show Obama Love for ‘Marriage Equality’

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama for the first time adopted the language of same-sex marriage advocates Monday, explicitly telling a crowd of LGBT and Latino donors in New York City that his support for “marriage equality” is a reason he deserves a second term.

“The announcement I made last week about my views on marriage equality -- on principle, the basic idea that I want everybody treated fairly in this country. We have never gone wrong when we have expanded rights and responsibilities to everybody,” Obama said.  “That doesn’t weaken families, it strengthens families. It was the right thing to do.”

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The crowd of around 200 supporters, who each paid $5,000 or more to attend, burst into loud applause.

Obama last week revealed in an interview with ABC News that he had reversed longstanding personal opposition to same-sex marriages after a period of reflection and conversation with family and colleagues. Later, in speeches at three West Coast fundraisers, he referred to the marriage issue, but only obliquely.

At Monday night’s event, Obama cast his position on gay rights as part of a host of issues on which there is a stark contrast between him and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whom he suggested is more extreme than his opponent of four years ago.

“This choice is going to be as important as any choice we’ve made for a very long time -- in some ways more important than 2008, because we’ve got a very clear contrast this time,” Obama said. “John McCain believed in climate change, and believed in immigration reform. On some issues, there was a sense of independence. What we’ve got this time out is a candidate who said basically he’d rubber stamp a Republican Congress that wants us to go backwards instead of forward on a whole range of issues.”

The president said the debate over the next five months would center on taxes, spending and the trade-offs involved in cuts to both.

“I think the American people are on our side with this,” Obama told the crowd. “The only thing holding us back is that things are still tough out there.”

Of the Republican case against him, Obama said, “Their message is very simple: you’re frustrated, you’re dissatisfied and it’s Obama’s fault.”

“This is going to be a tough race, a tight race, and nobody should be taking this for granted,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


After Latino Remarks, Connecticut Mayor to Get 500 Tacos

Hemera/Thinkstock(EAST HAVEN, Conn.) -- After the mayor of East Haven, Conn., quipped that he would rebuild relations with his town’s Latino community by having tacos for dinner, an immigration rights group on Thursday said it will help those inflammatory dinner plans come true. 

Reform Immigration for America in Washington, D.C., will deliver 500 tacos to Mayor Joseph Maturo’s office at 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The group launched a “text for taco” campaign Wednesday, asking people to text “Taco” to 69866 to show support for the East Haven Latino community and condemn Maturo’s comments.

The mayor’s remarks followed news that four of the town’s cops had been charged with abusing the rights of Latinos.

“We want to make it very, very clear that the mayor’s language is not only offensive but it is inappropriate,” said Henry Fernandez, the local spokesman for Reform Immigration for America.

The mayor’s “taco” remarks on Tuesday came just hours after three East Haven police officers and one sergeant were arrested for allegedly racially profiling and discriminating against Latinos following a three-year-long FBI investigation. They have been charged with “conspiracy against rights” for conspiring to, “injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate” Latinos, conducting illegal searches and making false arrests, according to the indictment.

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By Thursday morning more than 2,200 people had texted their support to send the mountain of tacos to Maturo. Despite the group’s pledge to send one taco for every text, Fernandez said they capped the delivery at 500, the “sheer capacity” of which “will make the point.”

Maturo has apologized for the remarks multiple times over the past two days, but stood by his officers, saying they are innocent until proven guilty.

Maturo declined to comment on Thursday’s taco delivery.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Connecticut Mayor Apologizes for Taco Crack

Hemera/Thinkstock(EAST HAVEN, Conn.) -- An East Haven, Conn., mayor is in hot water after saying he would connect with his town’s Latino community by having tacos for dinner.

His comments came hours after four East Haven police officers were arrested Tuesday by the FBI for civil rights violations after allegedly using excessive force against Latinos.

When asked by a reporter what he would do for the Latino community, Mayor Joseph Maturo responded, “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not quite sure yet.”

And when the reporter pointed out that, “that’s not really the comment to say right now,” Maturo continued: “I might have spaghetti tonight, being of Italian descent,” he said. “I could go out and have, I’ve had ethnic food and when you asked me what I was doing for Latinos tonight, I may go out and have a Latino dinner in the Latino community. There’s nothing wrong with that. And you can twist it and turn it whichever way the press decides to do.”

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was quick to condemn the comments, saying in a statement Wednesday that Maturo’s statements were “repugnant” and “unacceptable.”

Maturo apologized shortly Wednesday in both a radio interview and an official statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Latino Inmate Ernest Atencio Dies at Sheriff Joe Arpaio Jail

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- The embattled Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff’s Office, which is accused of committing wide-ranging civil rights violations against Latinos in a U.S. Justice Department report, is now at the center of a new controversy.

An attorney for Ernest Atencio claims as the Justice Department’s report was being released Friday, deputies fought with his client, a scuffle that led to Atencio’s death.

When contacted by ABC News, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman said while the department can offer no comment on the case right now, a comprehensive report will be released along with surveillance recordings by Friday evening.

Before Atencio was taken off life support, Sheriff’s Deputy Director Jack MacIntyre released a statement saying that Atencio was combative when police brought him to the jail for booking and that he was placed in a “safe cell” to calm down after fighting with deputies.

MacIntyre said Atencio was watched by medical personnel while in the jail cell but 15 minutes later he was found unresponsive.

Police arrested Atencio for allegedly kicking at the door of an apartment complex last week and aggressively confronting a woman.  Friends said Atencio may have had bipolar disorder.

Manning has told reporters that Atencio was in the Army from 1988 to 1992.  He had three sons who range in age from 15 to 21.

For now, Sheriff’s Department investigators are working the case and say soon the public will hear their side of the story.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Latino Children Outnumber All Other Races of Poor Children in US

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- There are now more Latino children living in poverty in the U.S. than any other ethnic group of poor youngsters.

According to a Pew Research Center report, it's the first time that white children have not been the biggest group of kids living in poverty.

Pew estimates that 6.1 million Latino children are poor, with those living in single-mother households in the majority.  About two-thirds of poor Latino youngsters are the kids of immigrants.

Meanwhile, Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, now representing 16.3 percent of all people in the U.S.

During the recession years of 2007 to 2009, the childhood poverty rate for Latinos jumped by 36.3 percent compared to 17.6 percent for whites and 11.7 percent for blacks.

However, the overall rate of black children living in poverty is still higher than Latinos, 39 percent to 35 percent.  The rate for white youngsters is 12.4 percent.

Currently, the poverty rate in the U.S. stands at 15.1 percent with 22 percent of all children living under the poverty line.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Birth Rates Suggest White Majority Could Become Minority

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- New census figures suggest children of minority descent could reflect the face of America's future.

For the first time ever, non-white Americans, Latino, African-American, and Asian American outnumber white children.

"The idea where we had a white, middle-class population that we talked about in the 1950s and 1960s, that's disappearing," said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institute.

The new generation is still in the cradle, but as the infants grow up America will start to look very different.

Already, the trend lines are becoming clearer: Older Americans are whiter.  Younger Americans are more non-white.

Most of the change is being driven by a surging Latino population with a much higher birth rate than any other ethnic group.  It is further bolstered by legal immigration.

In fact, according to the Census Bureau, more than half of the growth in the U.S. population between 2000 and 2010 was because of growth in the Hispanic population.  Between 2000 and 2010 the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent while the non-Hispanic population grew only 5 percent.

Latinos have already passed African Americans as America's largest minority.  Latino Americans now number close to 50 million people compared to 38 million African Americans.

Whites remain a majority.  About 223 million people in the United States reported they are white, which accounts for 72 percent of all people living in the United States.

A March 2011 study in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry journal about multiracial children pointed out that two million American children have parents of different races, making them one of the fastest growing segments in America.

The implications of this evolving America are poised to touch everything from politics, where Hispanic voters wield increasing power, to education.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio