What makes it okay to deport Audemio Orozco-Ramirez?

Supporters of Orozco-Ramirez march in downtown Billings.

In 2013, Audemio Orozco-Ramirez with the passenger in a traffic stop in Jefferson County, Montana. At that time, he had been living in the United States approximately 16 years. Orozco-Ramirez was born in Michoacan, Mexico. He has no criminal record, but the officer of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department who stopped the car he was riding in suspected that he was in the country illegally, in part because he did not speak English. Orozco-Ramirez was arrested on a civil immigration violation and placed in a county jail sell with nine other men.

During a period of time that went missing from the jail’s otherwise continuous surveillance footage, a number of these men held down Orozco-Ramirez and raped him. In December, Jefferson County settled a federal lawsuit filed by Orozco-Ramirez for $125,000 without admitting that he was assaulted or it was liable. Since then, he has lived and worked outside Billings, checking in with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents on a monthly basis. During his last check-in, he was arrested and scheduled for deportation.

An appeals court judge has issued a stay against that decision pending a hearing. The feds frequently issue “U visas” to foreign nationals who are the victims of crimes and have aided authorities in their investigations, but in settling Orozco-Ramirez’s lawsuit, Jefferson County did not admit he was a victim of a crime. Legally, we can deport him. The question of whether we can do so ethically is more complicated.

Except for crossing the border illegally 20 years ago, Orozco-Ramirez has participated in the social contract. Our state and federal governments, on the other hand, have betrayed him multiple times. For example, there was the time we investigated him for civil violations as the passenger in a traffic stop. That doesn’t happen to Americans who enjoy constitutional rights. There was also the time we locked him in a cell full of rapists, also for a civil violation, and stopped watching what happened. Then there was the time we made a deal with him to forget about the rape thing and then picked him up for deportation while he was upholding his end of the bargain.

No American would agree that is the right way for a government to treat the people it governs. Yet because Orozco-Ramirez is not a citizen but merely a person who has lived here for the last 20 years, anything we do to him is fine. That’s a peculiar moral calculus, and you can read all about in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!

Yes, I can hear my parents having sex by Superman

Note: This weekend, Dan Brooks was injured in a freak accident while throwing hammers at a trampoline, so today’s Combat! blog is a guest post by humanitarian and immigration rights activist Superman.

As a virtually indestructible alien given superhuman abilities by Earth’s yellow sun, I get a lot of questions about my powers. Yes, I can cook food with my vision. No, I do not need special scissors to get a haircut. My hair just grows this way, with the gel and everything. I don’t understand why—probably for the same reason I can hear Lois Lane say “Help me, Superglub!” as the room in which she is trapped slowly fills with water, even though she is underground and thousands of miles away. And yes, this same super hearing means that I can hear my parents every time they have sex.

Continue reading

Why Nick Diaz’s suspension is a big deal

Nick Diaz submits Takanori Gomi via gogoplata in 2007. His win would be overturned following a failed drug test.

Nick Diaz submits Takanori Gomi via gogoplata in 2007. His win would be overturned following a failed drug test.

Yesterday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Nick Diaz for five years and fined him $150,000 for failing a drug test after his January bout against Anderson Silva. Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites. His opponent tested positive for anabolic steroids and was suspended one year. The asymmetry between these punishments is not as clear as it may seem: Diaz has tested positive for marijuana twice before, in 2007 and 2012. That might be because he has a medical card in California, where he lives, but whatever the reason, Diaz smokes a lot of weed. As of yesterday afternoon, that seems to be the central problem in his life.

Continue reading