Tragic and Preventable: The Death of Selena

From the July/August 2018 PNL #861

by Carly Fox and Ben Kuebrick

We grieve alongside Estela for the loss of her 18-year-old daughter, Selena Hidalgo Calderon. Selena was killed in late May, 2018. Selena's one-year-old son Owen is still missing. elena came to the United States seeking asylum and worked on New York State farms. The suspect in custody for Selena's murder was her boyfriend, who Selena lived with. Selena's death and Owen's status as missing are tragic and painful for all of us who work with farmworkers, immigrant families, and who know Selena's family personally.

While we grieve and try our best to support Selena's family, we also continue the work of making local conditions better for immigrant communities in general and farmworker women in particular. What happened to Selena is preventable with improved and consistent policies.

Farmworkers Deserve Equal Access to Safety.

Sadly, in this country, 55 percent of murdered women are killed by their boyfriend or husband. Selena survived domestic violence before her murder. Carly spoke with a farmworker woman from Wayne county who is also a survivor of domestic violence:

I think what happened with Selena is a result of what we are living right now with immigration. It's so hard because she isn't the only one who is in a situation like this. Often someone who is in a violent relationship won't act, maybe it's because of our kids, but in this case, it's more because of the laws. We come from countries where we've been victims of violence and we seek refuge here in the US hoping it will be better for us here. But when we arrive, we don't know our rights, we don't know if we will be protected. The laws don't allow us the freedom to leave, to be open about what we are going through, because we know that what will happen if we call for help is that we'll just be sent back to our country.

Those of us who have experienced domestic violence are feeling what happened to Selena so deeply. I hope that we can finally get laws that help and protect women, that women have the strength to speak up. No woman should ever have to go through this. I've heard on the news about her case when they tell us: if you've gone through this, you can call the authorities and that the police are there to help the community. But in so many situations your call doesn't just go to the local police, it ends up in the hands of federal authorities and so, who is going to take that risk to reach out if they don't have legal immigration status? If I don't have status, I'm so scared they will deport me to my country where I went through the same situation. So, this was such a blow to so many us; this has been so painful.

Instead of being offered help in situations of domestic violence, many local farmworker women have been threatened with deportation. Carly spoke with another farmworker woman who has spent roughly 12 years working in New York State. She said that of the women who called local law enforcement to report domestic abuse, she knows of at least eight who ended up in the hands of Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This practices silences survivors of domestic abuse.

In this moment of anti-immigrant federal policies and baseless, racist attacks coming from the highest offices, local law enforcement around the country are trying to gain the trust of immigrant communities. This trust must be earned through the delinking of federal immigration enforcement from local policing.

In this regard we are thankful that the Wayne County Sheriff 's department has a policy to serve the immigrant community regardless of immigration status. Local community organizing has pushed for local law enforcement, like state troopers, to stop oing the work of federal immigration agents.

ICE & Border Patrol Make Our Communities Unsafe.

It is unconscionable that local ICE field director Thomas Feely has attempted to use Selena's death to justify their immoral and terroristic policies. Feely said that her death "illustrates the real dangers to our communities" and that ICE "is determined to seek out and locate illegal aliens in New York." But facts matter. Every study that looks at the link between immigration and crime shows that immigrants commit less crime than US-born citizens, and places with more immigrants are safer than places with less immigrants. Immigrants make communities safer.

ICE and Border Patrol agents, on the other hand, have a documented history of abusing, sexually assaulting, and raping women and children in their detention facilities.

As the "me too" movement has so clearly demonstrated within the past year, men who commit egregious acts of violence against women are found throughout many different spheres of society-including the Syracuse Police Department, the NY State Attorney's office, and the White House. The problem is not undocumented workers; the problem is patriarchy and a legal system that consistently protects people with gender, race, and class privilege.

Equal Access to a Driver's License

One tangible way for farmworker women to access basic services and leave dangerous situations is the ability to obtain a driver's license.

In 12 states, people can receive a driver's license regardless of immigration status. Unfortunately, New York State is not one of these states, limiting the ability of undocumented workers to access necessities for themselves and their families. The Workers' Center is collaborating with organizations across the state to make driver's licenses available to all as part of the Green Light Campaign. Currently, NY A10273, which has 28 co-sponsors in the New York Assembly, would allow the state to issue standard licenses to qualified state residents regardless of immigration status.

"Too often, our immigrant communities find themselves in precarious working conditions and/or violent environments," said Fabiola Ortiz, an organizer with the New York Immigration Coalition. "Having a driver's license would increase the chances of reporting the crimes that immigrant women are victims of. Driver's licenses are not a privilege, but a necessity, and sometimes can make the difference between life and death," said Ortiz.

For more information about the Green Light campaign, like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GreenLightNY.

Resources

• "Detained, Then Violated: 1,224 Complaints Reveal a Staggering Pattern of Sexual Abuse in Immigration Detention. Half of Those Accused Worked for ICE," The Intercept. https://goo.gl/ Fo6SFy.

• "ACLU Obtains Documents Showing Widespread Abuse of Child Immigrants in U.S. Custody," ACLU. https://goo.gl/ yR8nQ4.

• "The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant," New York Times. https:// goo.gl/wL2AF7.

• "Special Report: The Criminalization of Immigrants in the United States," American Immigration Council. https://goo.gl/ SXPogi.

 

While we grieve and try our best to support Selena’s family, we also continue the work of making local conditions better  for immigrant communities in general and farmworker women in particular. What happened to Selena is preventable with improved and consistent policies.We grieve alongside Estela for the loss of her 18-year-old
daughter, Selena Hidalgo Calderon. Selena was killed in late
May, 2018. Selena’s one-year-old son Owen is still missing.
Selena came to the United States seeking asylum and worked
on New York State farms. The suspect in custody for Selena’s
murder was her boyfriend, who Selena lived with. Selena’s death
and Owen’s status as missing are tragic and painful for all of us
who work with farmworkers, immigrant families, and who know
Selena’s family personally.
While we grieve and try our best to support Selena’s family,
we also continue the work of making local conditions better
for immigrant communities in general and farmworker women
in particular. What happened to Selena is preventable with
improved and consistent policies.
Farmworkers Deserve Equal Access to Safety
Sadly, in this country,
55 percent of murdered
women are killed by their
boyfriend or husband.
Selena survived domestic
violence before her murder.
Carly spoke with a
farmworker woman from
Wayne county who is also
a survivor of domestic
violence:
I think what happened
with Selena is a result of
what we are living right
now with immigration.
It’s so hard because she
isn’t the only one who is
in a situation like this.
Often someone who is in a
violent relationship won’t
act, maybe it’s because of
our kids, but in this case, it’s more because of the laws. We come
from countries where we’ve been victims of violence and we seek
refuge here in the US hoping it will be better for us here. But
when we arrive, we don’t know our rights, we don’t know if we
will be protected. The laws don’t allow us the freedom to leave,
to be open about what we are going through, because we know
that what will happen if we call for help is that we’ll just be sent
back to our country.
Those of us who have experienced domestic violence are feeling
what happened to Selena so deeply. I hope that we can finally get
laws that help and protect women, that women have the strength
to speak up. No woman should ever have to go through this. I’ve
heard on the news about her case when they tell us: if you’ve gone
through this, you can call the authorities and that the police are
there to help the community. But in so many situations your call
doesn’t just go to the local police, it ends up in the hands of federal
authorities and so, who is going to take that risk to reach out if
they don’t have legal immigration status? If I don’t have status,
I’m so scared they will deport me to my country where I went
through the same situation. So, this was such a blow to so many
us; this has been so painful.
Instead of being offered help in situations of domestic
violence, many local farmworker women have been threatened
with deportation. Carly spoke with another farmworker woman
who has spent roughly 12 years working in New York State.
She said that of the women who called local law enforcement
to report domestic abuse, she knows of at least eight who ended
up in the hands of Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE). This practices silences survivors of domestic
abuse.
In this moment of anti-immigrant federal policies and
baseless, racist attacks coming from the highest offices, local
law enforcement around the country are trying to gain the trust
of immigrant communities. This trust must be earned through
the delinking of federal immigration enforcement from local
policing.
In this regard we are thankful that the Wayne County Sheriff ’s
department has a policy to serve the immigrant community
regardless of immigration status. Local community organizing
has pushed for local law enforcement, like state troopers, to stop
doing the work of federal immigration agents.
ICE & Border Patrol Make Our Communities Unsafe
It is unconscionable that local ICE field director Thomas Feely
has attempted to use Selena’s death to justify their immoral and
terroristic policies. Feely said that her death “illustrates the real
dangers to our communities” and that ICE “is determined to
seek out and locate illegal aliens in New York.”
But facts matter. Every study that looks at the link between
immigration and crime shows that immigrants commit less
crime than US-born citizens, and places with more immigrants
are safer than places with less immigrants. Immigrants make
communities safer.
ICE and Border Patrol agents, on the other hand, have a
documented history of abusing, sexually assaulting, and raping
women and children in their detention facilitie

 

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