LOS ANGELES, Calif.- A Guatemalan immigrant who had stopped being arrested by four Border Patrol agents last Friday due to a spontaneous protest by his neighbors in Lake Elsinore, was violently taken into custody early Tuesday morning, denounced his wife.
"He says he was beaten, kicked, his head is scratched and they don't want to take him to the doctor," said Alfredo Chumux's wife in a telephone interview with Univision News. “When he called me, I heard him making fun of him: él Calm down, baby, right now you go to the well (punishment cell) and all this is going to be taken from you,” she added with concern.
Chumux's wife, whose identity is not revealed because she is undocumented, said her four-year-old daughter, who was born in this country, was emotionally affected by the incident. "She says she wants to stay asleep and wants to wake up until her dad is at home," she said with tears.RELATED
Jeff Stephenson, supervisor of the Office of Customs and Border Control (CBP) in San Diego, confirmed this arrest, although he did not answer the allegations that he was physically assaulted.
The officer denied that the agents acted based on racial profiling and stressed that they have the authority to question anyone about their immigration status in an area 100 miles from the border.
"Agents are trained not to use race or ethnicity as a criterion in conducting law enforcement activities," said Stephenson.
Chumux, a 34-year-old painter, was about to arrive at his apartment in Lake Elsinore on the afternoon of Friday, November 1, when he noticed that two Border Patrol vehicles began following him closely. He said he slowed down to let them pass; instead, a van ended up blocking his way.
“Open the window!”, An agent ordered him in Spanish who touched the glass of the door with a metal cane, as seen in a video that the Central American recorded with his cell phone. "Do you have permission?" Chumux asks. "Show us if you have documents," the officer replied.
In another part of the recording, Chumux's brother, who was in the passenger seat, communicates with a relative by phone to tell him what was going on. "Migration has already fallen," he warns as federal agents continue to ask them to open the doors or lower the windows.
The Border Patrol version
The Guatemalan told the media on Monday night, a few hours before he was arrested leaving his home, that he and his brother spent about an hour locked up and the engine off, at the request of the officers. That day the maximum temperature was 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I couldn't stand the heat anymore. But my wife told me: "Don't go open the car," Chumux said.
“I felt fear, my brother was trembling with fear. The first thing I thought about was my wife and my daughter. Because he won't have enough money to pay rent, food, biles (bills). I started to cry, I'm a man, but men also cry, ”said the migrant.
Stephenson, the CBP supervisor in San Diego, said in a statement sent to this editorial that officers from the Newton-Azrak station in Murrieta were conducting routine patrol operations along Highway 15 when they began following the Chumux van .
The official said it is an "important smuggling route" of people and drugs from the border and into the country.
"During his patrolling that day, agents in the San Diego sector found a suspicious vehicle and while conducting check-ups, the driver stopped spontaneously in a nearby neighborhood," describes the supervisor.
"The agents approached the driver and the passenger, who refused to talk to the agents," the statement said. "Using their cell phones, subjects called neighborhood associates who had gathered around the stopped vehicle," he adds.
After taking information about Chumux, the uniformed decided to leave the scene, the officer said.
To justify its actions, the CBP Newton-Azrak station said that during fiscal year 2019 it arrested 272 undocumented foreigners and confiscated some 1,900 pounds of drugs.
"It's an injustice," says his wife
Activists doubt that Chumux was a Border Patrol target and say that in recent months the agency has intensified its tours in that area. They believe that the arrest of the Guatemalan was carried out in “revenge” because they could not arrest him on Friday.
Videos show that around 30 people went out to protest against the officers that surrounded the yellow Central American truck. “We don't want them here anymore. Go away, ”they shouted at them when they got into their vehicles to leave the place.
Chumux left his van drenched in sweat and several people accompanied him to the entrance of his apartment. Some stayed with him for a while, fearing the uniformed men would return.
“When I was at home I felt joy in hugging my daughter; I felt something in my chest, as if I had something stuck in my throat, ”he described.
The next day he did not go to work fearing he would be searched again and says that his wife cried all Friday night because of concern. “I was scared. I still see their faces when they talked to me and I feel sad because I think a lot about my family, ”he said Monday night.
This man emigrated from Guatemala in 2004 looking for a better future. In his country he was a peasant and studied until the third grade. He was 16 when he arrived in the United States with the idea of working to support his family. But in 2011 he got into trouble: he stole a phone card and two compact discs in a shop in Murrieta, he said. He was arrested by the police and ended up in federal custody. Soon he was deported.
At the end of 2011 he illegally crossed over to the US and so far – he says – has been an exemplary person. "Since I came back I have not made any mistakes: I have no fines, crimes, nothing," he said.
The dawn of Tuesday, when his wife returned from work, the two talked in the living room of their apartment about the possibility that immigration agents tried to stop him. "At 1 in the morning I said:‘ I know they will arrest you, because they will follow you, it is as if you made fun of them. " He told me: ‘Don't worry’, ”Chumux’s wife said.
Five hours later his bad feeling was fulfilled. The Guatemalan left his home to pick up a letter of recommendation that would help in the immigration case of a relative. "It's an injustice," says his wife.
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