Guest Voz - Maegan 'La Mamita Mala': Hate Crime Survivors Victimized Again by Racist Immigration System
When an immigrant, or two in this case, don’t fit into the the “good” immigrant narrative because of a criminal (in)justice system based, since its inception, on oppression, does the community turn it’s back? That is the question that the pro-migrant movement needs to ask itself in the face of the case of cousins Denis Calderon & Julio Maldonado who were victims of a hate crime yet find themselves behind bars, awaiting deportation.
The story of primos Denis and Julio, as told to me by their prima Maria, follows the accepted “American Dream” narrative. They are lawful permanent residents with American citizens as partners and American citizen children. Pero as two Latino immigrants in a changing neighborhood in Philly, they became targets for assault which made it easier for them to be doubly victimized, first by a racist gang and now by the Department of Homeland Security.
In 1996, Julio was visiting Denis at his home in Philadelphia whenLatinos attempting to defend themselves during a racial attack is never seen as self defense. That is a right not afforded to “our” kind. There is a silent expectation that we are supposed to take what comes our way, but when the tables are turned, Latinos and other people of color are criminalized. Not to speak ill of the dead, but 18-year-old Christian Saladino, who was stabbing Denis, had a history of violence that went unchecked and he and his friends were given the benefit of the doubt never afforded to the brown victims.
the two were victims of a racially-motivated attack by a group of white
youths who insulted them with a racial slur. When the cousins responded to
the slur, the youths began throwing beer bottles at them. The two cousins
tried to escape, and then attempted to defend themselves.
When the police arrived, they arrested Denis and Julio. They recovered twoThere isn’t much time left. The story of Julio and Denis doesn’t fit into a nice easy sellable package that will push major orgs to line up and spend money on campaigns, which is why the comunidad is important. Julio and Denis could easily have been Marcelo Lucero or Luis Ramirez. The fact that they didn’t die meant that they had to be taken care of in one way or another. There will be some on the ground actions soon and ways that peeps can help. So please stay alert for more info.
knives at the scene but did not test them for blood or fingerprints since no
witness testified that Denis or Julio had used a knife. Denis and Julio were
charged with aggravated assault. None of the white youths were ever charged with
any crime. Tragically, Christian Saladino died in 1998. Williams brought
murder charges against Denis and Julio. The case went before a jury and the
defendants hired a forensic pathologist who testified that the victim had a
pre-existing blood condition and had not died from injuries sustained in an
attack. Inconsistencies arose in the accounts of the witnesses and the jury
acquitted both defendants.
Judge Smith, the original convicting judge, in his remanded evidentiary hearing decided the new evidence was material and ruled in favor of the defendants, vacating the guilty verdicts and calling for a new trial on the aggravated assault charges. In a reasonable system, that would
have been the end of the story and you would not be reading about it today. But Seth Williams appealed the decision and the appellate court reversed Judge Smith because the cousins had failed to present the exculpatory evidence within the time prescribed by the statute of limitations. The cousins’ criminal attorneys appealed the criminal case up to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost on technical grounds.
Several years ago, DHS got involved and put the cousins into removal proceedings on the basis of the conviction which was then being appealed. Julio and Denis appealed their immigration case up to the Third Circuit and lost. In 2005, Julio and Denis were charged and convicted with failing to cooperate in their own removal because they would not sign the papers necessary to request travel documents from Peru so they could be deported. They have been in federal prison on those charges since 2005. Julio’s release date was moved up a year due to good behavior. DHS has expressed its intent to deport him once he is released on September 12, 2009.
Para mas informacion read Change.org and the familia’s site on the case, FAITH, which includes extensive details.