By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
ICE stopped housing females at the facility in early 2010. Gay, bisexual, and transgender males haven't been so lucky.
Which means if you share the same sexual orientation as Sheriff Babeu, your stay in the PCJ could be worse. Much worse.
An entire section of the ACLU report deals with treatment of "vulnerable populations," such as LGBT inmates.
These prisoners often are harassed and assaulted, their complaints either ignored by guards or rewarded with the harshest punishment the PCJ officially can dole out: "protective custody," a euphemism for solitary confinement.
Granted, the ACLU report's condemnation of this treatment extends to rapes, sexual assaults, and beatings that have occurred in other Arizona facilities used by federal immigration authorities. In other words, the PCJ isn't alone in its made-for-immigrants horror show.
But accounts of abuse of LGBT detainees in Babeu's custody take on new relevance following the accusations that Babeu strong-armed another gay man, his former boyfriend Orozco, threatening him through his lawyer with deportation if Orozco didn't sign a non-disclosure agreement and remain mum on Babeu's sexuality.
In relating the ACLU's findings, Arizona Republic reporter Daniel Gonzalez recounted the brutal beating of a transgender man by fellow inmates in the jail's immigration wing because of his gender preference.
Ramon Catalan lives as a woman and goes by the name Monica. While imprisoned at the PCJ and fighting deportation, Monica was viciously assaulted by cellmates. One of her cellies kept watch while the others beat down Catalan.
"One punched me in the face," Catalan told Gonzalez. "One was kicking me. They tried to cut off my hair with a razor, but I grabbed the razor with my hand and wouldn't let go."
Catalan later was treated at a nearby hospital for a concussion and facial-bone fracture, as well as bruises and cuts.
When I contacted her lawyers in Phoenix, they explained that their client now is free pending an appeal of her case before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Though her assailants were "disciplined" by the PCJ, they were not prosecuted for their hate crime, her lawyers say.
The feds have contracted with the PCJ since 2005, before Babeu's taking office as sheriff in January 2009. But that doesn't let him off the hook for allowing conditions at the facility to fester on his watch.
Victoria Lopez, an immigrant-rights lawyer with the ACLU, described as "not sufficient" the response of federal authorities to her organization's report. She told me that the ACLU is continuing its call for ICE to sever its relationship with the PCJ.
Asked by the Washington Blade about the disparity between his new-found civil rights advocacy for fellow gays and his lack of concern for the plight of the undocumented, Babeu — who prides himself as a "strict constitutionalist" — demonstrated incredible stupidity about how the U.S. Constitution applies to migrants.
"Though these may be good and decent people, in terms of illegal immigrants," Babeu said, "the fact is that they're illegal [not] citizens . . . It's not like [illegals are] an oppressed people or disenfranchised or people who've had their rights taken away. They're here illegally. So it's about the rule of law."
Heretofore, Babeu regularly demonized illegal aliens as drug traffickers, cartel members, and even potential terrorists. Now, when speaking to a gay publication, he concedes that they may be "good and decent people," but he denies that they enjoy the protection of our Constitution.
On this latter point, Babeu couldn't be more wrong. Certainly, the undocumented cannot vote and bear arms, but the U.S. Supreme Court again and again has reaffirmed that illegal immigrants have rights under the Constitution.
One of the better-known examples of the Supreme Court's rulings on this matter came in the 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe, which held that children present illegally cannot be denied education by states.
Writing for the majority, Justice William J. Brennan said:
"The illegal aliens who are plaintiffs in these cases challenging the statute may claim the benefit of the Equal Protection Clause [of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution], which provides that no State shall 'deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' Whatever his status under the immigration laws, an alien is a 'person' in any ordinary sense of that term."
Can there be any doubt that immigrant detainees at the Pinal County Jail are denied "equal protection of the laws" when alleged criminals are treated better there?
Nevertheless, some members of the gay community are too eager to embrace Babeu politically.
The gay weekly Dallas Voice, which calls itself "the premier media source for LGBT Texas," reported on an April 7 fundraiser for Babeu planned by Rudy Oeftering, vice-president of Metroplex Republicans, a Dallas-based gay GOP organization.
"We have the chance to help elect the first openly gay conservative to Congress," Oeftering enthused in an online invitation. "Let's not miss this historic opportunity!"
Oeftering may have been unaware of the ACLU report. Similarly, he could've been ignorant of recent revelations regarding Babeu's tenure as headmaster of the now-defunct DeSisto School for troubled teens in Massachusetts.
In a follow-up to our cover story breaking the Orozco-Babeu scandal ("Paul Babeu's Suspicious Past," March 8), New Times delved into the allegations that Babeu had an improper sexual relationship with 17-year-old DeSisto student Joshua Geyer, allegations that Babeu denies despite confirmation of the relationship by Babeu's sister, Lucy, and by more than one former DeSisto student.