NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol said Friday that agents acted appropriately during the videotaped arrest of a woman who was pulled away from her anguished daughters on a street in Southern California.
The agency said 36-year-old Perla Morales Luna recruited drivers to take people who crossed the border illegally to a house in National City, near San Diego.
The agency put her in deportation proceedings and is not pursuing smuggling charges.
Video of the woman being pulled from her daughters on March 3 in the San Diego suburb had drawn nearly 10 million views on Facebook by Friday afternoon. At least one person can be heard crying uncontrollably as agents forced Morales-Luna into a vehicle and drove away.
The woman’s attorney, Andres Moreno II, said agents left the daughters — 17, 15 and 12 — alone on the street. The children, all U.S. citizens, are now living with family in the San Diego area.
The Border Patrol issued a more detailed response as criticism mounted. It said Morales-Luna declined to turn herself in after being contacted by phone in the smuggling investigation, and that she tried to flee in a nearby vehicle when agents confronted her on the street.
Morales-Luna arranged for her sister to take custody of her children but not until after agents whisked her away, according to the Border Patrol.
The agency said officers faced “a barrage of insults and confrontational agitators” during the arrest.
Michael Scappechio, a spokesman, said safety concerns prompted agents to leave before letting Morales-Luna call her sister.
Morales-Luna is a single mother who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 15, Moreno said.
She was walking with her daughters to pay rent when agents stopped her in what the Border Patrol said was “the result of a targeted operation.”
“You can do your job without causing such a dramatic separation of family members,” Moreno said. “It’s overkill.”
Morales-Luna denies being part of a smuggling organization and “has no idea what they’re talking about,” Moreno said before the Border Patrol issued its more detailed statement.
Judith Castro-Rangel, who identifies herself as a special education aide on Facebook, posted the video on Thursday. She did not respond to an email and a receptionist at her school said she was not immediately available.
The Border Patrol transferred Morales-Luna to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for deportation proceedings, said agency spokeswoman Lauren Mack. She referred questions about alleged smuggling activities to the Border Patrol.
Moreno said he will fight his client’s deportation.
Immigrants in the country illegally and their families have been on edge as deportation arrests have spiked more than 40 percent under President Donald Trump.
The administration has said it targets people with criminal records, but many others are getting picked up. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said 65 percent of arrests from October to December involved criminals, compared to 82 percent during the final full three months of the Obama administration.
National City, a working-class suburb of about 60,000 people, is near the border wall prototypes that Trump plans to visit next week.
The prototypes are intended to guide future designs of the wall he pledges to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.
NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on the Border Patrol’s arrest of a woman near San Diego that was recorded on video (all times local):
A lawyer for a woman arrested on immigration violations in the San Diego area says he’s shocked by video of Border Patrol agents tearing his client away from her crying children.
Attorney Andres Moreno II said Friday that his client, Perla Morales-Luna, was walking down a street in National City with her three daughters last week when agents dramatically pulled her away and drove her off.
Moreno says the single mother emphatically denies the Border Patrol’s allegation that she was an organizer of a transnational smuggling network.
Morales-Luna has not been charged with any smuggling crimes and the Border Patrol has offered no evidence of that.
The attorney says Morales-Luna came to the U.S. from Mexico at age 15 and he will fight her deportation.
Her children, ages 17, 15 and 12, are staying with family in the San Diego area.
Video of a woman being pulled away from her weeping daughters on a California street and shoved into a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle is drawing criticism of the manner in which federal agents are enforcing immigration laws.
The incident occurred March 3 in National City, a community south of San Diego.
The Border Patrol says Perla Morales-Luna was identified as an organizer for a transnational criminal smuggling organization and was arrested for being in the country illegally.
The arrest was described as “grotesque” by Benjamin Prado, coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee’s San Diego U.S.-Mexico Border Program. Prado tells the Los Angeles Times that he’s concerned about the “terror” the woman’s daughters suffered.
An attorney for Morales-Luna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — As a strike by West Virginia teachers drags on, students are playing a waiting game — and for some, more video games — as they find ways to keep busy.
The teacher walkout over pay and benefits in this Appalachian mountain state shuttered classrooms Feb. 22 but shows no signs of an immediate resolution. Now some schoolchildren are spending more time at the soccer field or the skating rink while parents are kept anxiously waiting and trying to fill those idle hours.
And teachers are showing rising discontent as the strike drags on, amid concerns about their own income.
Classrooms are expected to remain closed again Monday as angry teachers head back to the West Virginia Capitol again seeking to press legislators to raise their pay, some of the lowest in the nation. A conference committee of both the state House and Senate has yet to address two different bills aimed at ending the strike.
“What we’re seeing is a movement in the U.S. Not just a labor movement. It’s a class of people rising up,” said Sam Brunett, an art teacher at Morgantown High School.
After four years without any pay increase, many teachers said they’d rather be in the classroom. But they say they believe they’ve come too far to back down.
“We feel like we’re under attack constantly,” said Cody Thompson, a social studies and civics teacher at Elkins High School. “Eventually whenever you’re pushed into a corner, you’ve got to push back.”
The walkout began last month after Gov. Jim Justice signed a 2 percent pay raise for next year. The House of Delegates later approved a 5 percent increase negotiated last week by Justice with the unions.
Then on Saturday, the state Senate approved a 4 percent raise, prompting angry union officials to vow to stay out of the classroom indefinitely. The House wouldn’t agree to the Senate’s move, sending the bill to the conference committee.
House of Delegates spokesman Jared Hunt said Sunday no committee meeting has been scheduled. So the wait continues.
Keeping schools shut for 277,000 students and 35,000 employees has been determined on a day-to-day basis. In a state with a 17.9 percent poverty rate, teachers and volunteers have gathered food for distribution to students who rely on free breakfasts and lunches at school.
To make ends meet for themselves, many of these teachers have side jobs.
Brunett does freelance art work on the side. Thompson has sold pizza, served tables and worked at a discount store. He now also works in a federally funded outreach program to help prepare students for college.
Kristie Skidmore, an elementary school reading specialist, has an adult clothing shop at her home.
“You’re looking at people here who every day care about other people, other families. People’s kids,” Skidmore said. “But at the end of the day, now we’re forced to be able to figure out how to care for our own families. That’s what it’s all about.”
As for the students, it’s not like they can go with their families on a long vacation.
At a Charleston mall, Cheryl Carty said her niece — second grader Zoey Lanier — has filled the void with activities that have included a visit to a museum children’s exhibit and a trip to the movies.
While saying she is “very supportive” of the teachers, Carty said she is worried about the students during the strike.
“They are being punished for it, too,” Carty said.
Between licks of ice cream, Zoey said she was disappointed she couldn’t return to school to turn in an art project she worked hard on that was due.
Elsewhere, Brady Stafford and about a dozen of his friends got in some extra practice at a South Charleston soccer field.
Stafford, a Charleston seventh grader, said that since the strike began, he’s attended sleepovers and played Xbox games. His friend, seventh grader Ben Jamerson, admitted he’s had bouts of boredom.
At a nearby ice arena, Melissa Hodges took her two daughters for regular skating lessons. Additional bonding with mom aside, fifth grader Kelsie Hodges is ready to get back to school. “I miss my friends,” she said.
Meanwhile, sixth grader C.J. Napper signaled he was in no rush to get back to classes.
“I don’t like school. It’s not fun,” Napper said. “I don’t mind” the walkout.
LONDON (AP) — If at first you don’t succeed … just give up.
The attitude of the technophobes, who consider any hiccup with video replays as terminal, is to dig their heels in.
The perfection demanded by some just wasn’t going to happen instantly with a video assistant referee system that will never eradicate human error. Don’t blame the technology when games are held up and confusion lingers. Blame the users.
And don’t just blame the referees. The officials who set the parameters for the implementation of VARs are equally culpable.
The picture of utter chaos being painted by some coaches, players and pundits is exaggerated.
The critics may succeed – for now – in keeping VARs out of competitions like the Champions League, but not from all soccer.
VARs will be at the World Cup in Russia. The next step for FIFA President Gianni Infantino is persuading the guardians of the laws of the game of VARs value before they are rubber-stamped for Russia by the FIFA Council.
But the International Football Association Board vote on Saturday should provide the impetus for FIFA to act with more of an open mind to tackle valid complaints about glitches.
Pausing the game, even for a minute, as a referee consults the VAR, is not embarrassing, as Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino argued after confusing episodes during an FA Cup game against Rochdale on Wednesday.
But there are simple solutions to make VARs less disruptive and it starts — as so often at FIFA — with better communication.
Too often it is unclear if a referee has consulted the VAR, and unexplained delays can be irritating in a fast-paced game. That’s never a good route to building confidence in a new system in a sport as resistant to change as football.
At a minimum, VARs should trigger messages on giant screens while in communication with the referee. Make it clear what is being reviewed from the list of options. That would also prevent referees being overzealous and deferring to VAR beyond the specified game-changing scenarios: Goals, penalties, red cards and cases of mistaken identity.
Players are already forming television gestures with their hands to apply pressure on referees. They should be booked, according to the laws, just as if they were waving imaginary cards. It won’t be long before a player is sent off for seeking an assurance that video replays of an incident are being checked. Teams have every right to know how, and why, VAR is being used, although adopting a system that allows a manager/coach to challenge a decision has been resisted.
Then there’s the more daring option: FIFA should be bold and emulate rugby to provide an audio link to referees that can be heard by fans.
IFAB technical director David Elleray, a former Premier League referee, complains that when he was recorded for a documentary it was edited to give “the impression that Arsenal had behaved appallingly .” But that happened almost 30 years ago. A live feed — activated when the referee speaks to the VAR — should be available to provide clear context that can’t be distorted.
It would stop the guessing game about how decisions are reached, which often leads to referees being subject to unwarranted abuse.
Better training for the referees is also a necessity.
Only officials with vast experience in competitive matches using VARs should be on the field at the World Cup. That won’t be the case, as it stands, with many adapting on the job.
There’s still time to fix it before kickoff in Russia in June. There are two options. FIFA could take the unpopular decision to dilute the geographic spread of officials by only taking those from domestic leagues with VARs. The alternative is securing loan moves for referees on the World Cup list to gain familiarity in the Bundesliga, Serie A and Major League Soccer where VARs are used in all games.
Instead, FIFA is planning a partial solution. The replay command center in Moscow will only be populated with experienced VARs. The problem with this solution is that referees on the field may be less comfortable with consulting the VARs or to check the pitch-side monitor if the video assistant is a senior match official.
Mistakes might still happen. Decisions by referees and their video assistants will always be subjective.
But accept it: Soccer’s revolution will be televised. Technology has been embraced later than most sports and VARs are not going away.
VAR isn’t in the last chance saloon. Happy hour is just some way off.
Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports
Channel One reporter Arielle Hixson interviewed “Black Panther” star Letitia Wright. In the movie, Letitia’s character is a super smart teen, who is the brains behind all technology in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Letitia had a few words of encouragement for kids who like science — watch what she had to say.