Fishing while brown

| August 13, 2008

It was twilight Aug. 6 when Officer Jeff Brown of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission noticed an empty Toyota Pathfinder while patrolling an access road near the Haw River. After inspecting the car and finding no one, Brown walked to the edge of the river access point and saw men casting a fishing net. They had come from Kernersville after having heard of the good fishing to be had in Burlington, one man told him. According to Brown, the men were trying to hide a cooler full of fish as he approached.

Brown asked to see each of their fishing licenses, but no one had one. He then asked for their identification. Among them, all they had were two El Salvadorian ID cards and an expired California driver's license. He arrested the five men—Antonio Ordaz, Jose Ernesto, Javier Jimenez, Edwin Marquez and Juan Aria—who, because they were fishing at the wrong hole at the wrong time, are in custody at the Immigration and Custom Enforcement holding facility in Alamance County Jail, waiting to be deported to their home countries.

The men could have merely been cited, but Brown chose to arrest them.

"We're certified state law enforcement officers, and it's up to an officer's discretion whether to arrest someone," Brown told the Indy. "If a person has no I.D. on them, and you feel that they may not appear in court on you, or that they may not pay the ticket off ... yeah, we do arrest them."

Like most state law enforcement agencies, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission doesn't track how many individuals arrested by their officers end up in ICE custody. Similarly, its officials insist that they don't target any group for arrest.

Within the last two years, N.C. Wildlife officers have checked the licenses of 110,000 anglers. Of those, about 5,000 of them were issued citations. How many of those citations resulted in arrest, the agency couldn't say.

The much-scrutinized 287g section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, adopted by Alamance County last year, allows in-house immigration officers to identify and deport undocumented immigrants who have, for whatever reason, found their way into custody—fishing without a license included. Shortly after their arrival at the jail, the five men arrested by Brown were processed and found to be living in the U.S. illegally.

"It's things like that which are a testament to the fact that 287g isn't working at it was intended," says Rebecca Headen, Racial Justice Project director of the North Carolina ACLU. "It's is a misguided program that takes energy and resources away from regular law enforcement."

Other critics of the 287g program say that the program opens the door to racial profiling, and that it corrodes the relationship between police and the communities they are charged to protect.

Some in law enforcement contend that what some critics of the program are really advocating is a selective application of the law.

"The law has to be fair and equitable, otherwise it doesn't work," posits H.R. "Randy" Jones, spokesperson for the Alamance County Sheriff's Department. "What some people do not seem to understand is that 287g is just a screening program, meaning that you have to be detained and arrested first. What some folks are asking is that we not do our jobs."

The five men detained by Brown represented themselves during their trial last week and pleaded guilty to charges of fishing without a license and possession of fish without an authorized method. In pleading to the charges, they expedited their own deportations.

According to Brown, the basic fine for fishing without a license is $35. For those unable to produce a valid North Carolina identification card the fine jumps to $75; additional fees increase the total cost of the ticket to $196.

Brown acknowledged he didn't cite the men for being unlicensed, non-resident anglers, which would have required them to pay the fine. Asked why, one could almost hear him shrug through the receiver.

"They were going to jail anyway," he says. "So it really wouldn't have mattered."

Comments (19)

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Worst piece of crap I have read in a long time! And this is coming from a pretty liberal person who generally enjoys reading the articles in the Indy. But kudos to officer Brown for taking the appropriate action. I think we can all agree that these lovely gentlemen would not have shown up in court otherwise.
And for the record, the article makes it sound like all these guys were doing wrong was fishing without a license. But the article does scarcely mention the "possession of fish without an authorized method." This means that they were in possession of game fish which were taken using a cast net. In this instance, you can actually be fined for every illegally possessed fish. Also, they had no driver's license! And as someone mentioned, they clearly had driven there. These guys sort of asked for it by parking their car on the side of the road. My motto has always been only break 1 law at a time....and as an illegal immigrant, you've already broke you should always be on your p's and q's!

Posted by wtjordan84 on 09/18/2013 at 1:39 AM

Is this disgusting journalism or what? There is no logic at all to the 'Fishing While Brown' spin on this story. This is clearly a case of 'Reporting While Biased'.

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Posted by mr. Steve on 09/22/2012 at 8:54 PM

Really? "just reporting the news"? Well that would make you unique among Indy reporters.

However, since your headline is Fishing While Brown it appears you are dissembling somewhat. That would seem to be a play off the old jokes they used to make about the LAPD for pulling people over for DWBs ("driving while black"). The headline implies that the only thing the gentlemen in question were guilty of was "being brown". That wasn't the case here.

Mocha as for your comment let me just say that my understanding of the 287g program (and this seems to be supported by Vernal's comments) is that 287g only applies to people taken into custody for some crime. Minor crimes included, yes, but some crime nonetheless. Witnesses and victims have no need to fear 287g even if they are here illegally. And I would further venture that those who are afraid to go the police because they are illegal would be just as afraid without the 287g program. Most people who are doing things that illegal try to avoid the cops.

Also again just to clarify you final comment should have been "...and the only one who can help is a scared hispanic who is here illegally."

Posted by JohnD on 08/21/2008 at 8:43 PM

Vernal, welcome to the area. Everyone needs to be concerned with ICE! It is targeting ONE group of people and one group only. This is NOt ok. Hispanics are avoiding law enforcement like the plague because of this program. There are victims and witnesses that won't cooperate because they live in fear (rightfully so) about what happens to them. I personally know children that have gone home and found BOTH parents have been detained; wives that have reported their husbands missing with no one able to give them information as to their whereabouts. I hope for everyone's sake that your life is not affected by crime or necessity and the only person that can help you would be a scared Hispanic.

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Posted by Mocha on 08/21/2008 at 2:32 PM

My point is John that I'm not making a "case" at all. I'm just reporting the news. As for your question, it's been explained to me that local law enforcement agencies don't deport anyone. The folks who operate the 287(g) screening program are law officers who have been trained and deputized as ICE agents. When they check to see if someone who has been detained by local law enforcement has proper documentation, they are doing so as employees of ICE. It's a dim line, but a line nonetheless. Of course it's up to the arresting officer's discretion to bring a person in for what in some cases is a minor infraction, which is where the questions of "profiling" and "targeting" come in. Ultimately, the program allows ICE greater capacity to identify undocumented immigrants, so no, the folks who have been deported via 287 (g) probably would not have been if for no other reason that there would have been no way for anyone at the Alamance County Jail to check their immigration status. If I'm wrong here, someone please correct me.

Posted by V. Coleman, Staff Writer on 08/20/2008 at 5:36 PM

Well, wait a minute now Vernal. Now I think you're hitting on something that is news. Are you saying that if we didn't have the 287 (g) program then the police wouldn't be able to deport "undocumented" immigrants that they had arrested, regardless of the severity of the crime??

That doesn't seem right. Once again, if that is the case, then I think that you make a good case for having the 287 (g) program.

Posted by JohnD on 08/20/2008 at 3:49 PM

Vernal Coleman here; I figured Id chime in since its me some on this board have been casting aspersions on.

There seems to be a bit of confusion as to how this whole journalism process works, so I figured I'd clear something up; I did not give up what would have been a lucrative career representing shit-heel politicians to pander to any one side of the political spectrum. There is no agenda here, though some of you seem quite determined to insert one into piece.

This drivel as someone called it is newsworthyto me at leastbecause it relays some info that I was not aware of prior to my recent move to this region; that if you are an undocumented immigrant in a municipality that has adopted the 287g program, even a crime as seemingly innocuous as fishing without a license can lead to your arrest, and eventually, your deportation.

The right and wrong of that is not for me to decide, not in my capacity at this newspaper anyway. Im only interested in facts, which is why if I had found evidence that the arresting officer had acted improperly it would have been included in the article. And be assured that if after continuing to cover 287g I do find some evidence of malfeasance, it will, of course, be included in the accompanying article.


Posted by V. Coleman, Staff Writer on 08/20/2008 at 1:51 PM

speedra says "Please ask the authorities in question to provide some more clarification regarding when it is appropriate and customary to arrest an individual for fishing without a license or identification."

Asked and answered. It's in the article. Brown told the Indy. "If a person has no I.D. on them, and you feel that they may not appear in court on you, or that they may not pay the ticket off ... yeah, we do arrest them."

Posted by JohnD on 08/20/2008 at 9:56 AM

Ok - seriously - Can we request that officer Brown come to Siler City to citate all the HUNDREDS of ILLEGAL "brown people" who continuiously break the law by stealing others identities. This is just one case where the North Carolina Division of Wildlife Enforcement - North Carolina Law enforcement is doing their job. It's exactly as written by another reader, If I am in Mexico or whatever county these people come from, I am going to be charged and prosecuted according to their laws - well honeslty - welcome to America - hey sure you can take my identity and then proceed to perform illegal actions while living in "my country" illegally. They didn't even bother - They didn't have a valid/fake ID. I'm subject to these laws only because I am a legal US citizen but hey, if your here illegally, feel free to screw over us tax payers, after all, if no one knows your here - your not really responsible for anything, are you??? Where do I sign up for that fake Visa? Ohh and I'm just curious, did they sign up for the US governmental insurance before they expidited thier own deportation? - Hey - why not get it all while you can - The US could probally have their health insurance benefits transferred to make sure they "received the proper medical attention needed". Brown, why didnt you hand them a governmental insurance request form along with a fake ID. Thats the only other thing you could have done to please the so called "I'm here take your identity group". Please - Deport them all - I've been to foreign countries and I have followed all their rules. I'm very proud to see that our Law Enforcement Agencies still feels the need to do so here in America. We should give them a big box of doughnuts! Honestly, job, well done, Brown!

Posted by AREYOU SEROUS on 08/20/2008 at 2:02 AM

It seems plausible to consider that whites, blacks, hispanics and those of other races and ethnicities may be asked for their fishing licenses and/or id in equal opportunity fashion. I think the issue at hand is the decision to arrest these men after the individuals were unable to produce a fishing license or appropriate identification. Is such action also universal? More data about arrests should be provided by law enforcement if this was not an ethnically motivated arrest. If in fact all individuals who are found to be fishing without a license and without identification are arrested, then there was no profiling or wrongdoing on the part of the arresting officer. If, however, the men who were arrested were arrested out of concern for their legal status or because of difficulty communicating with individuals who do not speak English well, then it seems as though some profiling may have taken place. Please ask the authorities in question to provide some more clarification regarding when it is appropriate and customary to arrest an individual for fishing without a license or identification. It might also be helpful to learn the arrest to ticket ratio of Hispanics who are found to be fishing without a license or any identification. This should be compared to the arrest to ticket ratio of other ethnicities who are found to be fishing without a license or identification.

Posted by speedra on 08/17/2008 at 10:33 PM

groovysus is right. When you don't have a fishing license then fishing in any hole is fishing in the "wrong hole" and fishing at any time is the "wrong time". It's like listening to my father-in-law whine about the police persecuting and harrassing him for being in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was freakin breakin the law. Your "wrong hole" at the "wrong time" implies that they weren't doing anything else wrong.

Posted by JohnD on 08/17/2008 at 7:39 PM

Once again Ms. Headen proves their is NOTHING neither American nor Civil about the ACLU.

Posted by rick s on 08/17/2008 at 6:23 PM

They were "fishing in the wrong hole at the wrong time"? Seriously? Here's a tip: you are not going to convince anyone of racial profiling by writing/publishing articles that showcase an officer legitimately arrested illegals conducting illegal activity. Why was this story even published? Please work a little harder and not waste the readers time with such drivel.

Posted by groovysus on 08/15/2008 at 1:14 PM

I have been asked for my fishing license. I am not hispanic(not all hispanics are brown by the way -- those with more european ancestors are quite white. Those with african ancestors are quite black). I am a US born citizen and can prove it with authentic identification. They had no fishing license AND were not citizens of this country. Let say I went to Mexico and was caught fishing while white(I mean no fishing license and in the country illegally). I would end up in a rat hole jail while they waiting to pay a fine(bribe) and escorted out of the country. Say I was in mexico illegally and from somewhere like El Salvador -- its just as likely I could be raped, robbed and murdered. The illegal fisherman in your story got proper justice. The police were upholding US and NC laws in a proper way. Your story is obviously meant to bully them into not doing their jobs next time. Thanks officers and keep up the great work.

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Posted by Bill C on 08/15/2008 at 8:06 AM

Fishing while brown has got nothing to do with it. I fish while white and i get my fishing licensed checked but then that is OK I need to obry the law and if you are brown just do what ever you want & if some one questions you yell rasist Jim the Minuteman

Posted by statb on 08/14/2008 at 10:11 PM

Well if it's any consolation, I feel their pain. I got a ticket the other day for "Speeding While White". Plus it was a clear case of Racial Profiling because the only thing that distinguished me from the driver next to me was that I was White. And going 90 mph.

Ok, seriously Indy, you guys are all hosed up on this story. Or rather, on your headline. The story is fine. And whether you know it or not I think you make a fine case for the 287g program. If this is how it's being implemented then I'm ok with that.

As most of the regular readers here will recognize, I'm probably more sympathetic to illegal aliens than most. But this wasn't a case of profiling. I'm white and I've been asked numerous times by NC Wildlife officials to show my fishing license when they find me fishing. A key difference is that I've always had mine.

Look if you want to make a case for how horrible 287g is, then find a case where some poor brown man is sitting around minding his own business not doing anything illegal and then gets arrested. For instance, if the Wildlife official had just passed these guys who were hiking on the trail with no cooler or hunting equipment or fishing equipment and he arrested them for not having IDs, then THAT'S a case of law enforcement using racial profiling and (in my opinion) abusing the provisions of 287g.

But if you're here illegally and you can't manage to avoid overtly illegal acts then that's just stupid.

Posted by JohnD on 08/14/2008 at 10:53 AM

Please note that the men were arrested because they had no ID, not because they were brown. How might they have left the scene anyway, with no driver's license. They obviously needed a ride!

Could it be that in typical Indy fashion, race is injected into the story from it's very introduction in order to stimulate the National Inquirer crowd that frequents this publication?

Please also note that Ms. Rebecca Headen appears to be on the newsroom speed-dial, and is ready to spring into action with the slightest prompt by media. Well strap your skates on sister because you're going to be one busy lady if you try to make a race case out of every arrest you read about from now til election time! The politicians who shun their duty when it comes to illegal immigration this year will find themselves back in the public sector and disgraced if they are standing for re-election. Even Democrats can smell a skunk if you wave it under their nose a few times!

Posted by Mr. Wrinkles on 08/14/2008 at 2:43 AM

They weren't fishing while brown. They were fishing ILLEGALLY while being in our nation ILLEGALLY and they got picked up, arrested and deported LEGALLY. Totally new concept, apparently, to these people as well as the dolt who wrote this cheesy piece of so-called journalism. The majority of OUR citizens want illegal aliens gone...get used to it. They were fishing illegally...the way they do everything else.

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Posted by GoHome on 08/13/2008 at 10:36 PM

End any chance of complaints against police departments, (ICE) Immigration Enforcement, Marshall's, by pursuing the pariah employer by enacting the SAVE ACT. Democrat politicians need to sponsored the Federal SAVE ACT (H.R.4088). For enforcement only and massive funding to stop pariah employers and the illegal immigration invasion. This is a pittance to what taxpayers are spending now to support illegal cheap labor and their families. Funding is limited under current immigration laws, because Democrats have gutted most appropriations. Instead of going after illegal immigrants, that can lead to mistakes. We must enact the Federal SAVE ACT (H.R.4088) and go after the real culprits. "Some employers improperly hire workers as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits like Medicare, Social Security, insurance and workers' compensation. Employers who contribute to the local economy should not have to compete with those employers who choose to break the law by knowingly misclassifying their employees, " quoted Iowa Gov. Chet Culver These are the predatory businesses that ignore Immigration laws. Once caught employers should have the heaviest penalties thrown against them. Unless they have used the government E-verify data base and those hired have been shown to be legal. Then penalties should be harsh and severe. They are stealing jobs from citizens and legal residents, which should be classed as a 'A' felony. If convicted should be heavily fined, business assets confiscated to add funds to ICE. Want to learn more? If caught with more than five illegal immigrants in their employ, should be locked away for at least 5 years. No half-measures like using factory managers as a scapegoat. No matter their highest echelon, no Chairman, CEO, Director should be able to shun our laws. Millions of regular people are joining for free, to stop this travesty of our immigration laws.

Posted by Brittanicus on 08/13/2008 at 5:32 PM
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