Ministers of the Skagit Valley Churches reached out to support Isabel Valencia Perez after he was reportedly beaten by federal border patrol agents.
Publication: The Catholic Northwest Progress; August 23 2007
BY ARMANDO MACHADO
The Hispanic Ministry of Skagit Valley Catholic Churches is providing moral and spiritual support for a Mexican man reportedly beaten by two federal Border Patrol agents last year in a Latino neighborhood of Mount Vernon.
“I would connect it with the message, ‘I am my brother’s keeper,’” Jose Ortiz, a pastoral assistant with the Hispanic Ministry, said in a recent interview. “We look for the least among our brothers and sisters; we need to be there for them.”
Ortiz said the Hispanic Ministry supports a planned lawsuit by the man’s attorneys against the agents. The beaten man, Isabel Valencia Perez, 30, attends Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish in Mount Vernon, and St. Charles Parish in Burlington.
Contacted by telephone at his home, Valencia said in Spanish, “I feel very content with the support I have from the church, from Silverio [Vivanco, Skagit Valley Churches pastoral assistant for Hispanic ministry], and from the community. I am very grateful.” Valencia, a married father of four, declined comment on the incident, citing the planned lawsuit. But he noted, “They (Hispanic Ministry leaders) remind me to have faith, to have a lot of faith in God.”
The incident occurred in late morning, June 12, 2006, as Valencia was waiting at a school bus stop in the Kulshan Creek neighborhood for his then-six-year-old son to return from kindergarten. Valencia, who reportedly was punched and kicked, suffered facial wounds. His son reportedly saw the latter part of the beating from inside the school bus as the vehicle approached the stop. Valencia, who put up a struggle, told police he didn’t know the casually dressed men were Border Patrol agents. News reports of the incident cited information from Mount Vernon police and witnesses.
Valencia was arrested and held in custody at a Tacoma detention center for undocumented immigrants, and released after six weeks there. The Seattle office of the Mexican Consulate helped post part of the $5,000 bond.
Valencia is being represented by the law firm of Rios Cantor in Seattle. No criminal charges – locally or federally — were filed against Valencia or the two Border Patrol agents. But Manuel Rios of the Rios Cantor firm said he is awaiting word from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office on whether charges will be filed against the two Border Patrol agents.
“We are contemplating filing a federal and state lawsuit against the individual (Border Patrol) agents and the government for their violations of Mr. Valencia’s civil rights,” Rios said. “We were successful in terminating Mr. Valencia’s removal case in Seattle, based on the egregious violations of the law from the Border Patrol agents….He is no longer under threat of deportation.”
Ortiz, from the Hispanic Ministry, said, “Many cases like this go unreported or unspoken of, because people are afraid to speak out – they’re afraid of being deported.”