ICE can’t seem to be out of the news for very long. An intelligence supervisor for Border Patrol has just been arrested for the murder of four women and the possible attempt of a fifth. Despite having a gun pulled on her and being grabbed, the fifth victim managed to escape the car and notify a state trooper on a suspicious man who allegedly killed one of her friends. Juan David Ortiz befriended all the women before they entered his vehicle and once in an isolated location, shot them. He claims that he was trying to “eradicate all the prostitutes”. After the fifth victim escaped, he published on Facebook a cryptic goodbye to family and attempted suicide.
Once the news broke, media sources chose to highlight a few things. Firstly, that all the women were sex workers. This was a piece of information that connects all the victims but tends to portray these women in a negative light. Sex workers tend to receive limited media coverage, have high unsolved murder rates, and receive little support from the police due to little data. A mother of a murdered sex worker in a different case claims, “They don’t care about the sex world. They just think they’re dirty, scummy people.” Her daughter’s murder has never been solved.
Secondly, one of the women murdered was transgender and she was dead-named at an official police news briefing. Aside from how humiliating it is to be deadnamed, her identity was focused solely on how she was a sex worker. This minimizes the violence that transgender women encounter with law enforcement, especially ICE, and disrespects transgender peoples’ identities
Finally, District Attorney Alaniz is overseeing another case where a Border Control agent murdered his girlfriend and newborn. They are seeking the death penalty in that case.
This case, as awful as it is, is exposing us to something that we need to think heavily on. The stereotypes that we are falling into when discussing this case. The fact that these victims were minorities (sex workers and one transgender person) puts this case in a high profile position because of who the perpetrator is. It forces us to think of an unpleasant stereotype. Border control agents aren’t peaceful people. There have been 95 deaths in relation to Border Patrol. People were shot at, run over by cars, involved in car crashes, were drowned, maced and tased. Of course, agents were also killed. But people were wrongly deported and abused.
Due to this, the United States paid $60 million to cover claims made against the agency. But this information does not prove that all Border Patrol agents are violent people. That would be like calling all illegal immigrants violent rapists and drug dealers. Just because a small percentage of people could be that, that doesn’t mean that all people are.
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