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Reporter assaulted at 'racist' public school

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INVASION USA  -  Reporter assaulted at 'racist MEChA' public school
Posted: June 1, 2006   2:16 p.m. Eastern  By Art Moore   © 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

Principal may have ordered 'thug' who drove on curb, tackled radio reporter

A radio reporter attempting to interview the principal of a publicly funded school backed by radical groups that lay claim to the Southwestern U.S says he was chased down and tackled at the campus today,  apparently by order of the principal.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Unified School District officials say they are conducting an investigation of the "performance" and "culture" of the Academia Semillas del Pueblo Charter School.

Sandy Wells of KABC in Los Angeles was turned away at the school's front desk this morning when he tried to talk to founder and principal Marcos Aguilar.  As WorldNetDaily reported, Aguilar indicated in a recent interview he believes in racial segregation and sees his school as part of a larger cultural "struggle." Chartered by the district in 2001, the institution is backed by MEChA, a radical student group with the stated goal of returning the American Southwest to Mexico. KABC radio host Doug McIntyre has been investigating the school for the past three weeks.  Aguilar has not responded to WND's request for comment.  Wells, equipped with a KABC mic and recorder, said that when he inquired at the school's office about interviewing Aguilar, he was told the principal was not in and did not want to talk.  The reporter asked the four or five black-garbed guards stationed outside for permission to interview parents as they arrived at the school with their children but was denied.

Then, according to Wells, a Dodge Magnum abruptly pulled up on the sidewalk, causing the reporter to jump out of the way.  A large Hispanic man with a shaved head, about 25, leaped out of the vehicle and chased Wells down the street, tackled him and demanded the tape.  Wells, shaken up with his clothes torn but uninjured, said he turned over the tape, which had only ambient sound.

The guards offered no help, the reporter noted.  Wells said the attacker told him he didn't work for the school.  As Wells drove away, he noticed he was being tailed by a black SUV. The reporter called into McIntyre's show and was put on the air, hoping the exposure would prompt his pursuer to back off. The SUV eventually pulled away.

The man who tackled Wells accused the reporter of being "sneaky."   But Wells insisted he was at the school with his press credentials and KABC mic in full view and had asked permission to conduct the interviews.

In a previous conversation with Aguilar, Wells said the principal, who was speaking about death threats made to the school, warned him to "watch his back."  A caller to McIntyre's show this morning, identifying himself as Ricardo, said he was with Aguilar when the principal gave the order to get the tape from Wells.

Ricardo explained he works for a lawyer who is looking into acquiring a temporary restraining order against KABC on the school's behalf.  Ricardo said he believes the intention of the school is to provide an environment in which the radical MEChA can teach its beliefs and policies.  McIntyre said he's been unable to get an explanation from Los Angeles Unified School District officials as to how the school was allowed to be chartered.  However, the radio host's producer, John Phillips, provided WND with a copy of a statement provided by district press deputy Shannon Murphy, saying a "review" is underway.

"The Los Angeles Unified School District is currently undergoing a through review of Academia Semillas Del Pueblo’s charter operations, including its academic programs. The District’s Program Evaluation and Research Branch spent at least two weeks at the school observing classroom discussion and collecting data regarding student performance and school culture. The District is currently reviewing the findings and a report is forthcoming."

'Don't drink from white fountain'

Aguilar, interviewed recently by an online educational journal, Teaching to Change L.A., doesn't think much of the Brown v. Board of Education decision that desegregated American schools.  He simply doesn't want to integrate with white institutions. "We don't want to drink from a white water fountain, we have our own wells and our natural reservoirs and our way of collecting rain in our aqueducts," he said.  The issue of civil rights, Aguilar continued, "is all within the box of white culture and white supremacy. We should not still be fighting for what they have. We are not interested in what they have because we have so much more and because the world is so much larger."  Ultimately, he said, the "white way, the American way, the neo liberal, capitalist way of life will eventually lead to our own destruction. And so it isn't about an argument of joining neo liberalism, it's about us being able, as human beings, to surpass the barrier."  Aguilar said his school is not a response to problems in the public school system, as it's available only to about 150 families.

"We consider this a resistance, a starting point, like a fire in a continuous struggle for our cultural life, for our community and we hope it can influence future struggle," he said. "We hope that it can organize present struggle and that as we organize ourselves and our educational and cultural autonomy, we have the time to establish a foundation with which to continue working and impact the larger system."

  Immigration Woes Abound
By LINDSAY PETERSON The Tampa Tribune   Published: Jun 9, 2006

TAMPA - Fernando Merino-Ronquillo saw the Border Patrol car drive slowly past him, stop, then turn around. He never made it to his construction job that morning in December.

He admitted to the Border Patrol agent that he was in the United States illegally and figured he soon would be sent back to Mexico. But less than six hours after being caught, he was let go.

Across the country, immigrants such as 24-year-old Merino-Ronquillo routinely are released from government custody because there isn't enough space to hold them, according to an April report from the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Thousands are never found again.

Detention space will only get tighter in Florida, officials say, because the 300-bed immigrant jail and court in Bradenton is closing. Today is the last day of hearings at the facility, the only immigrant detention center and court on Florida's west coast. The two judges will move to the immigration court in Orlando. Detainees are being transferred to the Krome Detention Center in South Florida.

The federal government has leased jail and court space from Manatee County since 1996 for about $10 million a year. But the aging facility "doesn't fit the need anymore," said Michael Rozos, the director of detention and removal for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Florida.

He said the government wants to open a large detention center in North Florida, although no plans have been approved.

Border Patrol agents say the space problem has been building for years. "I couldn't believe it when I heard they were closing," said Richard Pierce, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the agents' union. Before retiring last year, he was based in Tampa.

Agents take the people they catch into custody, Pierce said. But when they notify ICE officials, who are responsible for detention, "they'll say, 'We have no space.'"

"So you'll set up a court date [for the immigrant] and say, 'You gotta be here on this date.' He'll just nod and say, 'Sure, OK.' Then he walks out the door.

"Now," said Pierce, "they're taking away 300 beds."

Many agents wonder why they come to work every day, he said. Officials talk tough, but "what they're really doing is throwing their hands in the air and saying, 'We give up.'"

As of May, the number of immigrants who had been ordered deported and could not be found was up to 590,000.

Bush Says Catch And Remove
Three weeks ago, President Bush went on national television to say the government would end the practice of catching and releasing undocumented immigrants. What he didn't say was that the plan focuses on newly arrived immigrants caught within 100 miles of the border or coastline they crossed.

"The president says from now on the policy is catch and remove," said Border Patrol Council President T.J. Bonner. "The reality is, there simply isn't enough money."

Six years ago this month, Merino-Ronquillo walked across the border near Douglas, Ariz., with about 10 others. A friend brought him to Tampa, where one of his brothers lived.

Within weeks he was working, first roofing new houses, then repairing sewer pipes for a city contractor. He earned $8 an hour on that job, more money than he had ever imagined making in Mexico, he said.

After that he found work with a concrete company building one of the condos in the Channel District.

He had just checked in that morning on Dec. 7 when the Border Patrol agent stopped him and asked to see his green card. He didn't have one. He sat in the patrol car while the agent picked up several more people at the Tampa bus station downtown.

He was questioned at the Border Patrol office. When noon came, he was told he could leave but that he would have to appear later before an immigration judge.

He found a lawyer, hoping for a way to stay in the United States, at least for a couple of years. But that lawyer, John Miotke, of St. Petersburg, had few options to offer.

He had two choices: stay illegally or leave. On May 11 he appeared before immigration Judge R. Kevin McHugh in Bradenton to ask that he not be deported but be allowed to go back to Mexico on his own. This meant that he wouldn't be barred from trying to return to the United States legally in the next several years.

"As soon as I got picked up, I knew it meant it was time for me to go back," he said. He also didn't want to live with a warrant out for his arrest.

Thousands seem to see it differently, according to the Homeland Security Department report.

Federal agents caught nearly 775,000 undocumented immigrants from 2002 through 2004. During that same time, the number of detention beds dropped from more than 19,000 to 18,000.

Because of a shortage of detention beds and staff, more than one-third of the immigrants who had been picked up were let go.

ICE Weighs Priorities
The government now has about 21,000 detention beds and has asked Congress for more, said Barbara Gonzalez, an ICE spokeswoman in Miami. In the meantime, "we are prioritizing our actions," she said. "We prioritize our focus on national security and public safety threats."

According to the HSD report, however, nearly 28,000 of the immigrants caught and released from 2001 through 2004 had criminal records.

The critical April report is the third in a series going back 10 years. In 1996, the Inspector General for the U.S. Justice Department found that the federal government had deported only 11 percent of the undocumented immigrants who had been caught, released and ordered to leave the country. It blamed a shortage of detention beds.

Border agents continued their patrols through 2004, catching 275,680 people, 8,300 more than the year before. Detention space and staff remained tight, the HSD report states. It created what the report calls a "mini amnesty."

But not for Merino-Ronquillo. About Sept. 7, he will fly to Mexico City, then take a bus to his village in the state of Veracruz. There he will have to file a form with the U.S. Consulate to prove he arrived.

He can't imagine what he will find in the place he left behind six years ago, a collection of about 100 people who earn their living working cattle. Over the years, at least one-fourth of them have left for the United States, Merino-Ronquillo said.

He'll follow the debate in Congress, he said, hoping for a change that will let him come back, hoping to come back legally.

Contact Lindsay Peterson at (813) 259-7834 or lpeterson@tampatrib.com.

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