The ICE Docs That Cost a Mother of Three a Broken Arm and a Beat-Down

I've obtained the documents the MCSO was so hot to have Maria del Carmen Garcia-Martinez mark with her fingerprint. You can see them for yourself, here.

Initially, I believed that there was just one page, but now I see there are four pages that the MCSO had Garcia-Martinez put her fingerprint on. Garcia-Martinez, who cannot read or speak English, believed the paperwork was a voluntary removal form to send her back to Mexico, and so refused to cooperate. She relented after six MCSO guards broke her arm, and left her in a room for several hours. When eight MCSO returned later that night and told her to give up her fingerprint or else, she allowed them to put her finger on the documents.

"She gave her fingerprint only after being in a cell for hours after being beaten up," observed Garcia-Martinez's new lawyer Danny Ortega. "This document did not require a fingerprint."

Indeed, the forms merely state that she will be going before an immigration judge, what her rights and responsibilities are, and that she acknowledges receipt. One of them is a list of immigration lawyers for her to contact.

For this, they broke a housemom's arm? What's next, waterboarding as they read corn vendors their rights?

According to Dan Pochoda, the legal director of ACLU of Arizona, it doesn't matter what the paperwork involves, you have the right to refuse, and the authorities are not allowed to use force to change your mind.

" You can't force someone to sign," he told me. "The whole point of signing is that you voluntarily attest to whatever the fact is that you're signing. If you're using force, the whole reason for signing is turned upside down."

Garcia-Martinez gave her fingerprints upon booking, which is required. But beyond that, Pochoda stated that inmates have a right not to sign or put their fingerprint on something in lieu of signing. If someone doesn't want to sign a document, an officer can indicate on the doc that the individual declined.

"OK, so they sign for the person," Pochoda said. "They say, `So and so refused to sign,' and we have five other officers here (as witnesses) That's only to protect themselves anyway.  They can sign and say, `So and so refused to sign.' You can't use force."

On some of the docs, you can barely see, next to the fingerprint, what looks like the inscription, "Refused to sign." The 287(g) officer signing off on the papers is one A. Reese.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Vinnie Picard, the matter has been handed over to ICE's Office of Personal Responsibility, which will be investigating the matter. More than that needs to be done, however. This woman's civil rights have been violated, and yes, nativists, even illegal immigrants have rights under the U.S. Constitution, whether you like it or not.

The woman was assaulted, so there are aggravated assault charges someone in this state needs to pursue. (Won't hold my breath on that one.) And the feds should see this as just another reason Arpaio's 287(g) should be pulled. There is absolutely no excuse for this sort of behavior from law enforcement. Their badges should not protect the perpetrators from justice.

In any case, there's more on the Garcia-Martinez case in this week's Bird column, so please check that out as well. 

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