America’s Voice commends the U.S. Department of Justice for charging three officers of the Shenandoah, Pa. police department with obstruction of justice and other crimes in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant by several local teenagers last year. AV also applauds the decision to indict two teenagers on federal hate crime charges after they were acquitted in state court earlier this year for the fatal beating of Luís Ramírez, a 25-year-old undocumented immigrant who worked as a handyman.
The indictment charges the Shenandoah police chief and two subordinates with trying to cover up for the young men involved because of personal ties the officers had to the teenagers.
“Violent attacks against immigrants are sadly becoming all too common — most notably in a similarly shocking case in Long Island, NY a few years ago — and they should not go unpunished,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “The justice department action sends a strong message that these types of hate crimes will not be tolerated or allowed to be rationalized, ignored, or covered up by local authorities who seem to believe undocumented immigrants don’t deserve the same legal protections as other residents.”
“We believe the lives of poor immigrants, regardless of their legal status, are just as valuable as the lives of Americans,” Sharry said. “The indictment signals that teenagers or anyone else who prey on and attack defenseless immigrants, simply for being immigrants, will pay a price for their actions. Hopefully the charges filed will also act as a deterrent to senseless assaults and police misconduct in the future.”
These sorts of brutal attacks, coupled with police inaction, only drive undocumented immigrants living in the shadows further underground and erode their trust in law enforcement and their willingness to cooperate on criminal investigations.
“Violence motivated by bigotry and hate has no place in America, and yet it remains all too prevalent in many of our communities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice. “The Civil Rights Division stands ready to bring perpetrators of hate crimes to justice.”
As an organization working to bring about comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration system, America’s Voice applauds the Obama Administration’s efforts to protect the lives and rights of all immigrants.
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