College Summit

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College Summit is a workshop to help low-income students gain the tools necessary to get into college. Phoenix is one of seven pilot sites for the summit, which was recently held at Arizona State University. The Executive Director of the Arizona Commission for Post-Secondary Education, Dr. April L. Osborn, talks to Horizonte about College Summit’s goal and how the program may improve the Latino high school dropout rate in the Valley.

>> Feliciano Vera :
Good evening, I'm Feliciano Vera in for Jose Cardenas. Tonight on "Horizonte", Hispanic attorneys and civil rights groups challenge the Maricopa County attorney's decision not to charge a soldier who held undocumented immigrants at gunpoint. And a workshop designed to have more low-income students enroll in college. These topics all next on "Horizonte."

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>>Feliciano Vera:
Last April, Army reservist, Patrick Haab held 7 undocumented immigrants at gunpoint at an Arizona interstate rest stop. Haab was later arrested by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies. Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas ruled that Haab made a citizen's arrest that was legal under Arizona law. Thomas made the decision not to press charges against Haab. Now, an association of Hispanic attorneys called Los Abogados and some civil rights groups are asking Thomas to reconsider his decision based on their own legal analysis.

>> Antonio Bustamante:
That, for the county attorney to dismiss prosecution against Patrick Haab because the undocumented aliens who were assaulted at gunpoint were conspiring to transport themself is incorrect. The theory is that Patrick Haab performed a citizens arrest. However, under the statute that prohibits the transporting of undocumented aliens, under that statute there's a specific language that limits who can enforce that statute. The only persons who can enforce that statute, the only persons are authorized officials of the immigration service or people who are sworn police officers, not private citizens. As a matter of federal law and the preemption doctrine of our constitution, it trumps the Arizona civilian arrest statute. The arrest was not lawful. Secondly, even if it were lawful, it is a crime that supposedly Mr. Haab was preventing or making an arrest for the commission of when the county attorney said that the undocumented aliens were conspiring to transport themselves under court precedence and under the manner in which the United States attorney's office and justice department of the United States enforced the transporting statute. The only people who can be guilty of that statute or prosecuted are persons who are transporting the aliens. The alien himself or herself cannot be guilty of violating the statute. Therefore to say the aliens were involved in a conspiracy makes no sense and falls as a matter of law.

>> Feliciano Vera:
We invited Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas to discuss the topic on "Horizonte" but he was unable to come due to prior commitments. Horizon's Michael Grant talked about the Patrick Haab case with Andrew Thomas a couple weeks ago. Here is what he had to say.

>> Michael Grant:
Several weeks ago, everyone was familiar with the Sergeant Patrick Haab case. He was the returning soldier from Iraq who held both the coyote and several illegal aliens at gunpoint waiting for law enforcement to show up. You decided not to prosecute. Why not?

>> Andrew Thomas:
It was a lawful citizens arrest based on the applicable federal and state law. Patrick Haab, the off-duty Army reservist, had apprehended 7 individuals, one was a coyote, who was in the process of human smuggling, which is a felony and the other 6 who cooperated were conspirators, which is also a felony and so we concluded that he had the right to conduct that arrest.

>> Michael Grant:
Critics of your decision said it was happenstance one happened to be a coyote, which did make it a felony. I believe it would have been a misdemeanor, which would not make it an appropriate citizens arrest. They also said they felt your decision was encouraging, majoratively speaking, vigilante kind of action. What do you say to that?

>> Andrew Thomas:
I tried to do so at the time, and would do so again. That it was a decision based on the unique facts of that case. The sergeant happened to be right that they were involved in the commission of a felony. Had he been wrong, he could have ended up in prison, detained people with a weapon. Under different circumstances he could be looking at a different scenario. Those were the facts of the case as our office received it so we had to accept the facts on that basis.

>> Michael Grant:
Did you consider the possibility, as I understood it there were a number of different stories being told by the group that was held that sort of put their version of the whole incident in question. Did you consider saying, hold it, this is not a case that we can successfully prosecute because we've got such bad witnesses on that side, as opposed to turning it on the fortuitous circumstance that one of them turned out to be a coyote?

>> Andrew Thomas:
The analysis that we use is, you do ultimately have to look at the reasonable likelihood of conviction. That is the long-standing standard, the standard I continue to apply. Before you get to that, you have to look at whether or not the person is innocent. If the person has a legitimate affirmative defense to the crimes as charged. You have to consider that first of all before you make the ultimate charge and decision based on the reasonable likelihood of conviction standard. We went through that, we went through the different layers and ended up concluding that based on the applicable law that was the right decision to make.

>> Michael Grant:
You would make it again?

>> Andrew Thomas:
Yes.

>> Michael Grant:
Doesn't send the wrong message?

>> Andrew Thomas:
In this job, it's a tough job in certain respects, you're going to end up not pleasing everybody every time you make a decision. You have to make the right call based on the law and the facts of case and you can't be swayed by people getting mad or protesting, you have to make the right call. Once you depart from that, once you are no longer interested in being a minister of justice in that office, then tyranny begins to creep in. I made the call based on my assessment of the law and facts of the case, and I stand by it.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Again, according to his office, Thomas says the decision was researched and is comfortable with it. Joining us tonight representing Los Abogados is ASU professor of law Orde Kittrie. Professor Kittrie contributed to the law analysis sent to the county attorney. Welcome.

>> Orde Kittrie:
Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

>> Feliciano Vera:
For those of us not familiar with Los Abogados, tell us a little about the organization.

>> Orde Kittrie:
Los Abogados is the Latino attorneys association of Maricopa County.

>> Feliciano Vera:
When the Haab case first came to light, there was some controversy surrounding it. What was your immediate reaction when you heard about the case?

>> Orde Kittrie:
Once I looked into the facts of the case and what County Attorney Thomas had had to say, I was very disturbed by the word that he had taken.

>> Feliciano Vera:
When County Attorney Thomas made the decision not to prosecute, there was again a wide array of opinions regarding that decision not to prosecute. Can you explain your reaction to that and how that influenced your decision to support this effort, to develop the legal memorandum?

>> Orde Kittrie:
Sure. As with any legal case, you have to start with the facts of the case. What are the facts of the case. Patrick Haab had held 7 undocumented aliens at gunpoint on April 10th at the Sentinel rest stop just off of I-8. He called the county sheriff's office. The county sheriffs sent his deputies. When the deputies arrived, they arrested the 7 undocumented aliens, they also arrested Patrick Haab. The Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio took a very strong stance. Joe Arpaio, America's toughest sheriff, said that Patrick Haab had no right to do what he did. And that Patrick Haab like other people can't go around pointing guns at others because of the color of their skin. What was Patrick Haab's response? Patrick Haab said different things at different times. Sometimes he said he acted in self-defense, other times he said he acted to enforce federal immigration law. These people were in the country illegally and he was arresting them because of that. When County Attorney Thomas announced on April 21 st that he was dropping charges against Patrick Haab, people were surprised. First that he dropped the charges and second, the reasons that he gave for dropping the charges. County Attorney Thomas made no reference to the claims of self-defense. In part I think because the facts didn't support the claim of self-defense by Patrick Haab. Instead, County Attorney Thomas at that time said that the detention by Patrick Haab was justified because it was a lawful citizen's arrest. It was an arrest for a violation by those undocumented aliens of 8USC1324, which is the federal law that prohibits the smuggling of undocumented aliens. Now, why is it that Joe Arpaio, America's toughest sheriff, criticized Andrew Thomas' decision? Why is it that the U.S. attorney, Paul Charlton, the highest-ranking federal officer in the valley criticized at the time? Why is it the ACLU and others criticized the decision? They criticized it because that provision of law specifies who can arrest for violation of federal law. It says specifically, only federal, state and local law enforcement officers can arrest for violation of that provision. Now, this is a very important distinction. Why is it that it makes sense that only law enforcement, trained law enforcement officials can arrest for violations of federal immigration law? It makes sense because federal immigration law is very complicated. It is very hard to tell who is an undocumented alien and who isn't if we're going to allow and County Attorney Thomas has given the green light to private persons to point the gun at people they think are undocumented and hold them until law enforcement arrives.

>> Feliciano Vera:
So given Paul Charlton's critique, given Arpaio's critique, in your opinion was Thomas's decision motivated by politics than by points of law?

>> Orde Kittrie:
The law is clearly not on County Attorney Thomas' side on this one. Sheriff Arpaio agrees that Thomas was wrong. Charlton agrees that Thomas was wrong. It's unclear why Thomas would have taken such a position except for political reasons. What concerns me is that such a green light for vigilantes to take law into own hands sends a dangerous message not so much to Patrick Haab himself, he's probably learned his lesson, but it sends a message to future Patrick Haabs and the minutemen who are scheduled to be back in Arizona in October, that they can take the law into their own hands and hold people because of the color of their skin. There's a very dark chapter of United States history that had to do with this kind of scenario, people taking the law into their own hands and government officials looking the other way or even worse, doing what Andrew Thomas did, justifying the illegal act. That dark chapter of American history is the history of lynching. More than 3300 African Americans were lynched in this country. What does lynching mean? It means private persons taking the law into their own hands. More than 3300 African Americans were lynched in this country. 590 Mexicans have been lynched in this country, including 58 in Arizona alone. More than 100 Asian-Americans and dozens of Mormons have been lynched in this country, including the founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith and his brother. All were lynched. And I'm concerned that Andrew Thomas is taking us back to those dark days.

>> Feliciano Vera:
I want to come back to that. Coming on the heels of the release of this memorandum of law, Governor Napolitano held a recently convened immigration summit among law enforcement officials. How does the county attorney's decision color or complicate the ability for local law enforcement officials and law enforcement officials in general to regulate immigration?

>> Orde Kittrie:
I think local law enforcement officials like Joe Arpaio are concerned. They don't want private citizens taking the law into their own hands. They want private citizens -- what Patrick Haab should have said, they look like undocumented aliens. Let me pick up the phone and call, and say there's an undocumented alien at such and such place with such and such a license plate. The fact of matter, the southern border of the United States leaks like a sieve. That's a problem that needs to be addressed. Undocumented aliens need to be arrested. But also gunpointing vigilantes like Patrick Haab need to be arrested, too, not by private persons but by duly authorized law enforcement officers. That's what America is all about, the rule of law. Andrew Thomas needs to stop mischaracterizing law and do the right thing.

>> Feliciano Vera:
As a final closing question, what does this set up? What are the implications of this decision, given -- given that the county attorney's made his decision, do you hope to have any impact on him?

>>Orde Kittrie:
Many citizens groups of all different types, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Committee, Los Abogadas and 10 other groups came together to condemn County Attorney Thomas' announcement. We have also seen again sheriff Arpaio taking a position and Paul Charlton's office taking a position to what County Attorney Thomas did was wrong. We are hoping, I am hoping that the County Attorney Thomas will finally get the message and stop giving a green light to vigilante enforcement of immigration law. He will stop encouraging vigilantes and start discouraging them.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Professor, thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizonte".

>> Orde Kittrie:
Pleasure.

>> Feliciano Vera:
According to this year's Arizona minority student success report, there is a 64% four-year graduation rate for minorities compared to 82% for white students. There is a special program called "college summit," which is dedicated to giving low- income students the information they need to get into college. Mike Sauceda has more on what the summit is about.

>> Mike Sauceda:
The College summit mission is to have more low income students enroll in college. Last ten years ago, college summit has had more than 5,000 students in its workshops. According to college summit and the Arizona commission for post secondary education, the average U.S. college enrollment rate for low income students is 46%. More than 200,000 low-income students with the potential to attend college never enroll. College summit's students college enrollment rate is 79%, and Arizona's average college enrollment rate for low income students is 15%. Phoenix is one of 7 pilot sites for the summit partly because of the Latino dropout rate. The goal of programs like this is to help kids get the information they need to stay in school.

>> Feliciano Vera:
The college summit training program was recently held at ASU. With us, is Doctor April Osborn. Dr. Osborn is the executive director for the Arizona commission for post secondary education. Her office partnered with college summit to offer the workshops in Arizona. Also here is Fatina Santiago. Fatina just finished her first Arizona college summit. April, Fatina, welcome. Docto Osborn, we've heard a little about the college summit. Can you tell us why your office decided to connect with the college summit and partner with them?

>> April Osborn:
I'd love to. The mission of the commission for post secondary education, this is a state agency, to expand access and increase success for post secondary education for Arizonans. As you now, we have a low college going rate in this state. We had looked at possibilities that we could bring to the state to do pilots to see how we could increase that college going rate. The criteria was, we wanted evidence-based programs. They're very hard to find. There's a lot of programs. Very few have evidence that they are successful. This program was a favorite of mine because it focuses on one year in a young person's life and results in increase in college going because it takes young people who are ready for college and makes sure those 200,000 of them that don't get there have a much better chance of attending.

>> Feliciano Vera:
How does the program work exactly? What happened at the recent summit at ASU?

>> April Osborn:
The workshop at ASU was an example of a workshop that could take place at any one of our universities or colleges. The workshop is designed to take young people who are what we call mid-tier students with exceptional leadership ability and train them in a way to believe they are college material. I call it kind of working them over. Four days, they complete university applications, they complete college aid forms. They learn that they're ready for college and they write a personal statement. So once you last those four days, you're ready to go to college.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Fatina, how did the summit change your view of college and the possibility of going to college?

>> Fatina Santiago:
It changed my view in many ways but most I realized that there's many ways that I can get to college. I can pay for college, that there's many ways of financial aid out there. I just have to look for them but they're out there.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Now, Fatina is one of many Latino students here in the state of Arizona. Dr. Osborn, can you talk a little bit about the Latino dropout rate and what this program does to address that?

>> April Osborn:
I can. The Latino population is very diverse. About 50% of the 18-year-olds in the State of Arizona, Latino 18-year-olds and older are not high school graduates. Right there is a piece that we need to be working on and we need to make sure that our young people get through high school. The numbers for Arizona are this - out of 100 students that enter 9th grade, only 30 of those students go on to college. And of those 30 students, out of 100 that enter 9th grade, if you're low income, that's one segment in the Latino population as it is in others, only 15 of those students even access college their first year after graduating. So it's a multi-faceted problem.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Fatina, why did you attend the workshop? How did you hear about it?

>> Fatina Santiago:
I attended the workshop because I knew there would be four days dedicated to helping us get to college and helping us fill out applications, and they would be helping us write the personal statement. In four days we packed it in to two. I heard of the program by the counselors in my school and advisors. And about the program at our school. But I heard through them that they're going to take some students to this workshop.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Dr. Osborn, what do we know about Latinos that actually do make it into college here in the state?

>> April Osborn:
We know that their success rate is less, also, I'm sorry to say. We know that there's barriers to access in college. I was talking to Fatina's dad. I asked him why he thought our students weren't going to college and succeeding. He gave me two factors. One, Spanish speaking parents who don't know how to access the information and support their child. And the other was financial assistance and the low amount of financial assistance available to Latino students. That's of great concern to us. It's probably a myth in many ways, the low amount of financial assistance. For legal residents of the United States, we have 850,000 students that are Pel eligible that never apply that should. It's really important that young students and parents get full information to make decisions based on what is, because often people make decisions based on incorrect information.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Dr. Osborn, you're talking about some of the typical barriers that impact Latino students' ability to get into college. Are there any other factors beyond linguistic ability or academic achievement, are there any others that impact in a negative way?

>> April Osborn:
Two big ones. Preparation and another is expectations. We know that 50% of all Latino families expect their children to go to college. The expectations are there, but the feet aren't on the plan. When the information is available to the students and to the families, think about taking SATs, applying for a FAFSA, filling out a college application. All of that is a mystery. Most of our Latino students are first generation college goers so they don't have that background at home. So we would like to supply that background and the College Summit is one way to do that.

>> Feliciano Vera:
How do you expect the college summit program to continue to help you and your family to prepare for college?

>> Fatina Santiago:
I expect this program to first, to go back to college from this program as a peer leader, to go back and teach my fellow students what I learned. How to keep up with the dates and stuff like that. And for my, you know, I'm a first generation going to college, also, so I expect from this program that others may also be first generation.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Does this help you and your family to get a better sense what it means to apply for college and be successful?

>> Fatina Santiago:
I first thought it's a lot of money to go to college and it's all got to come out of pocket. I understand there's scholarships and many ways of financial aid. There's many things that you can get different ways, all you have to do is keep your eyes open and apply everywhere you can.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Final question, you're a rising student at Glendale High School. Where are you applying to college?

>> Fatina Santiago:
My first choice is ASU.

>> Feliciano Vera:
Any second choices?

>> Fatina Santiago:
Fort Lewis in Colorado.

>> Feliciano Vera:
That's wonderful. Thank you.

>> April Osborn:
Thank you.

>> Feliciano Vera:
For more information on transcripts and upcoming shows, go to our website, www.az.pbs.org and click on "Horizonte." That's our show for tonight. Thank you for joining us. I'm Feliciano Vera in for José Cárdenas. Have a good night.

Orde Kittre: ASU professor of law;

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