AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute

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AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute is a college access program that increases college enrollment and graduation rates for Latino youth. CEO/Founder Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez joins us to talk about what makes this program unique.

>>>Jose Cárdenas:
Good evening and welcome to Horizonte. I'm Jose Cárdenas. A program aimed at deterring illegal border crossings at the U.S. Mexico border has been successful, but does Arizona's criminal justice system have the resources to support it? Plus Gustavo Arellano, writer of the column "Ask a Mexican," was in the Valley to talk about his new book, and information on how to help prepare Latino students interested in college. These stories coming up next on Horizonte…

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>>Jose Cárdenas:
According to new U.S. Data federal law enforcement agencies have increased criminal prosecutions of immigration violators to record levels. Officials say it is due in part to a program known as "Operation Streamline." It requires virtually everyone caught illegally crossing some stretches of the U.S. Mexico border be charged with at least a misdemeanor immigration count and jailed until they are brought to court and if convicted eventually deported. Despite "Operation Streamline's" success, there is concern the program is overwhelming federal courthouses, jails, and law enforcement. Joining me to talk about the program, is David Gonzales of the U.S. Marshal Office for Arizona. Marshal Gonzales, welcome to Horizonte.

>>David Gonzales:
Thank you, Jose, my pleasure to be here.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
It's been a long time, glad to have you back. Give us a history of "Operation Streamline." Then we'll talk about how it applies here.

>>David Gonzales:
It's a very comprehensive border securing program developed by the border patrol. It started in Texas. And a little bit in Yuma, which it's also, part of the district on the western part of the border. There are two border patrol sectors, the Yuma sector and the Tucson sector. Now the Tucson sector is the busiest in the country and it is the point of the sword if you will for the border patrol for illegal immigration, 50% of all illegal immigrants comes into the United States through the Tucson sector.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
But they started this first in Yuma?

>>David Gonzales:
Well, Yuma and also Texas, Del Rio, where they implemented the program to see how it would work. And it's been very successful for the border patrol.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
What are the key components?

>>David Gonzales:
It's called "Streamline," because it streamlines the process, when somebody comes across the border, arrested, then they are brought to in this case the Tucson federal courthouse, processed very rapidly if you will. They come in the morning to the Tucson courthouse. They are processed by U.S. Marshals, they're interviewed by attorneys, they see a judge in the afternoon and they're sentenced and off they go.

>> Jose Cárdenas:
And it was expanded to Tucson because of the success in Yuma and Texas?

>>David Gonzales:
Yes, exactly.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
And as I understand it, you have quite a few border crossings, but not everybody is arrested.

>>David Gonzales:
No. I mean, approximately 500,000 people are arrested by the border patrol in a Tucson sector.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
On an annual basis?

>>David Gonzales:
On an annual basis. What border patrol and all of us who are involved in this program and obviously the marshal service is one cog in the program. You have border patrol, judges, U.S. Attorney's office, public defenders, court system, and us. We all have to be in sync to make this program successful. And Jose, to be honest with you, I being the U.S. Marshal, we are the weak link in this program because we cannot maintain the numbers that the border patrol wants to bring in at this time.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Now, as I understand the program is ramping up and at its peak it will be 100 people a day that go through this process?

>>David Gonzales:
It's a hundred a day. We'll go to 80 next month. We started off at 40 in January. And we started off at 40 because the infrastructure of the courthouse in Tucson is very difficult to handle, wasn't designed to handle that many prisoners, up to 100, plus didn't have the bodies to handle it. The U.S. Attorney's office needed to prepare and we've been ramping up to eventually get to 100 in September.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Why do you characterize the marshal's office as the weak link?

>>David Gonzales:
Well, over the years homeland security and border patrol, which they're a part of, have put tremendous resources on our border in Arizona. And unfortunately the rest of the system, to deal with that, has not even been looked at. So when you have 3,000 and pretty soon probably 4,000 border patrolmen on the Tucson border trying to do their job, to get those criminally charged, any federal prisoner charged into the system with that many law enforcement officers, it's like having this big funnel coming down to a very small opening and we're that very small opening, because the infrastructure, the people, are not there to process those prisoners, to house them properly at this time. And that goes along with the judges and U.S. Attorney's office.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Now, what is it right now, you're at 60 a day?

>>David Gonzales:
We're at 70 a day, excuse me.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
In and of itself that doesn't sound like a loss of people. Explain how that puts a strain on not only your resources but the court's.

>>David Gonzales:
Yes. Take a courthouse that has cell blocks in there. And Tucson courthouse was built for about 120 prisoners. We not only deal with streamline prisoners, you deal with all the other prisoners being arrested by the other federal agencies in southern Arizona so we also have to deal with those prisoners, the prisoners that come back to court, so it's not unusual to have 200, 250 prisoners in a cell block in Tucson which is just a security nightmare and puts everybody in jeopardy, when you have that many prisoners and in a space designed for half that.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Marshal, I do want to come back and talk about the burdens this program imposed on your office. But before we do that, tell us what the process is as it relates to the individuals who are captured and processed in this program.

>>David Gonzales:
Sure. Traditionally the border patrol has designated high traffic areas they are monitoring on a daily basis, and securing those as they move forward. Say, for example, now we're 80 prisoners are coming a day to the Tucson courthouse. Those prisoners are transported normally to Florence, Arizona, to holding facility. Border patrol will do backgrounds on those individuals, determine if there's individuals that have been through more than once or twice, evaluate all the prisoners they have there that have been arrested that day, select 70 as of now, and bring them to the Tucson Courthouse real early in the morning. Prisoners are then processed by deputy marshals and also interviewed by defense attorneys, and then by 1:30 in the afternoon they see a judge, normally plead guilty, are sentenced, and they leave in buses from the courthouse and they're either if they are released by the judge for time served they are deported. If they're given jail sentences, they come to the U.S. Marshal's service where they are housed at a private prison in Florence to serve out their sentence.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
This all takes place in what, roughly 24 hours? They're arrested or detained, arrested, processed, meet with their lawyer, go before a judge sentenced in --

>>David Gonzales:
Usually within 24 hours, yes.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
And is there any concern that's been expressed with whether this is actually doing justice to these individuals in terms of knowing their rights and how they're being processed?

>>David Gonzales:
Well, I know from monitoring the process, the attorneys in Tucson who handled the clients, seemed to be up to speed. They seemed to be doing a pretty good job. I've heard complaints from some people that seems that seemed to indicate that there are concerns about the process and but the cases also are very straightforward and lot of people will argue that there is a need to streamline those to move them through the system very quickly, so it just kind of depends on what side of the coin that you fall on.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Let's go back to the cost. I take it that the dollar cost of doing this exceeds the moneys that have been specially designated?

>>David Gonzales:
There's no question, it's very, very expensive. From -- and this is just the U.S. Marshal's aspect. We have to bring deputies from around the country into assess, we need additional administrative help. The bed costs are very, very expensive, as of now we spend about $10 million taxpayer dollars a month housing federal prisoners in the Florence private prison and although rear holding bed space ok now, there are as the program develops into 100 more a day, we will fill up very quickly and I will be sending federal prisoners to other states looking for bed space.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
What about the impact on the use of your resources for other priorities of your office?

>>David Gonzales:
we are work on that. We have the congress did designate $50 million united states marshal service to assist on the streamline, along with the judges, the courts, and the U.S. Attorney's office, to assist on those type of issues, but it has had an impact on our fugitive operations and also protecting of the courthouses, but the job gets done and as we go through this process we seem to adjust to it.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Some of the articles discussing this have indicated that it does have an impact on prosecuting other crimes.

>>David Gonzales:
There are only so many United States deputy United States attorneys or assistant United States attorneys in the Tucson area, and other crimes have I think predominantly drug charges have gone to decide as because the attorneys are so busy working immigration cases.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Marshal, I want to switch to another topic and the last one we're going to have time to cover, but it's related. About a month ago or the end of April, you wrote a piece for the Arizona Republic in the viewpoints column, expressing your concerns about the diversion of law enforcement resources to immigration enforcement as opposed to being used for other higher priority items. Elaborate on that a little bit and tell us what kind of feedback you got.

>>David Gonzales:
Well, I've been a police officer for over 30 years. I was 25 years with D-P-S; I was head of the gang unit. I was head of organized crime, head of the narcotics unit. I was head of the highway patrol in the Phoenix area. And as a U.S. Marshal now for the last six years, so I think I have a pretty good idea how criminals operate and the impact it has an the community. And as a previous state and local police officer, I think our first priority is to make our community safer and the piece was there are 30,000 felony warrants, pushing more to 35-40,000 felony warrants in Maricopa County. And there are rapists, murderers, burglars, I-D Theft, a lot of people that should be off the streets to protect all of us. And my point was that law enforcement should concentrate on getting those individuals off the street, those thugs, and those predators off the street to make everybody safer. Now --

>>Jose Cárdenas:
I take it not a popular position with the sheriff.

>>David Gonzales:
Well, it wasn't. And I've talked to the sheriff about this. And he has his viewpoints about immigration and I have my viewpoints and I think a lot of the chiefs of police would agree with me.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
I apologize, marshal, we'll have to have you back on the show later to talk about those viewpoints, hopefully with the sheriff but thanks for joining us continue Horizonte.

>>David Gonzales:
Thank you.

>>> Jose Cárdenas:
You may not know him by his real name but you've probably read a lot about what Gustavo Arellano has to say. The young Latino writer from Orange County is best known for his wildly popular syndicated column "Ask a Mexican." Horizonte's Marcos Najera interviewed Gustavo Arellano recently when he was in the valley promoting his new book.

>>Marcos Najera:
America's favorite Mexican was handing out autographs in Tempe Changing Hands Bookstore recently. Gustavo Arellano signed copies of the new paperback version of his top selling "Ask a Mexican" book, which is a collection of some of his favorite columns. Before the event, he stopped by the Horizonte studio for a little talk.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
Even when I've done book readings I would expect, ok,there's going to be some in the audience that don't like the column and are ready to attack me, like this, all stern faced. But then I start reading and talking I see those arms, they melt away. I start seeing smiles and laughter.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
And it's satire. That's what I do with the column. Because I do serious essays too, I write for the LA Times once a month, a serious column. Put in a little humor, what not, so I also value that position. But with a column like this, come on, "Ask a Mexican," where I say I'm the Mexican, you have to be a little bit outrageous, you have to be a little bit nutty, so that's why I do slip in the curse words and I do sometimes embody some stereotypes. But what I hope is that people see that it's all a gimmick. It's all an act. At least the persona of the Mexican, the answers that I answer, they're real. The issues at hand, they're very serious, and I take everything that I write seriously, that's why if there's a curse word inside the question or in my response, I put that word there for a specific reason.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
I work from Orange County, California, one of the Mexican hating capitals of the United States, Phoenix may rival us in this day and age, so I had to cover the immigration issue every way possible, serious pieces, investigative pieces, first person narratives on my own family's history, I'm the child of Mexican immigrants. So in 2004 my boss said let's do a satirical commentary on Orange County, the fact there are so many people in Orange county ignorant about Mexicans, only in orange county could a column like "Ask a Mexican" exist. Let's do it as a joke, because sometimes O-C Weekly does parody columns so we did it as a parody piece, left it as a joke, I made up a question for myself, I answered it to myself. We put the big fast Mexican logo so if people didn't get the joke they'd say look, this is an advice column this is the guy writing it, obviously he doesn't exist. So we put it out there, and we knew people were going to have a reaction to it. We never expected people to actually send in questions about Mexicans.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
I didn't think people would take the column seriously. I knew people were going to see it as something crazy and outrageous. So we expected all the hate mail. Half the readers hated it. Half liked it. Half the Latinos said it's perpetuating stereotypes, the other half said this is the funniest thing I've read. The same with the white folks, some said this is racist e others say yeah, go after us. So we expected that. So if you readers have a spicy question, ask the Mexican, and I my personal email address but we didn't expect people to actually take my offer seriously. They called me on my bluff basically. After that I went to my editor at the time will and said hey, we're getting all these questions, what should we do? He said answer them, so I've been answering them ever since.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
I have over 236 pages of questions I haven't answered yet. Every single one unique. I've seen every question you can imagine, but every week I get more questions that I'm surprised that I get. I can't think of one that I haven't received yet just because I've gotten everything from toilet matters to sex to politics to, you know, smart questions about history, everything you can imagine, I'm still surprised that I'm getting questions in the first place or that I've ever gotten questions, period, considering it was only supposed to be a joke column no one was ever supposed to read.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
Since I only answer two questions a week, if there's a question I get that I can't answer immediately or to my satisfaction, then I'll just put it aside and research it. There was one time a question about etymology, it was what does -- why does the virgin of Guadalupe have an Arabic name? I knew, part of the Moorish contribution to Spain, so I had to buy books and make phone calls and it took three months to make the answer and finally I was able to answer it, after three months. In a way I take offense to the idea of a column, the idea that "Ask a Mexican" column exists in this day is a sad commentary on American life, sad commentary that so many people think of Mexicans as this big question mark. What are they going to do to this country? I know what we're going to do, just be like every previous wave of immigrants that has come before us. So that said I do get some really nasty stuff. I get some serious stuff, but at the same time I always have to question the intent of a lot of people who send in the question. Then it scares me again that there's so many people there who don't know anything about us, who are so clueless that they have to send in a question to a guy who says ask me questions about Mexicans.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
I'm not racist at all. The only people I hate, and I do hate these people, are ignorant people. And they exist in all types of levels some of the most offensive questions I've received in the column have been from Mexicans writing about African-Americans saying the nastiest things about African-Americans and in my column I go right back at them and attack the very Mexicans who do that. Especially I know in the column I make fun of Guatemalans, and various ethnic groups but it's a satirical point, satirical commentary, not just on the immigration situation of today but also commentaries on just, you know, ethnic humor of the past. Ethnic humor in America has a rich tradition of explaining the immigrant culture to the rest of the country, but part of that tradition is also to make fun of the newer immigrants so we have Italian jokes, Irish jokes, Mexican jokes unfortunately. So in the column I'm going to continue that rich tradition and I think that's a point that gets lost to a lot of people. But I'm more than happy to explain any critiques that people have.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
You know, 2006 I finally said ok, let's se if there's any interest in a book form of this and there was a lot of interest from major publishers, I signed with Scribner, part of Simon and Shuster, it became a best seller on the LA Times for seven weeks.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
Yeah LA Times, you know, did national book tour, always got big crowds, and even these were people who would come up to me and say I read your column every week, and they were still buying the book. And also just to not cheat people, when I came out with the book, half of it was going to be brand new or half is brand new material, exclusive to the book. Because I didn't want to cheat people. I do have a conscience. It's going to weigh on me and say I'm going to say spend $20 on something you can find all online? That wouldn't be fair.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
It's amazing because I really thought the only people who would ever care about the column would be Orange County people, it was very Orange County, a lot of the jokes were in jokes about Orange County, a lot of the sensible, and the sarcastic sense ability was very much an orange county thing. Around 2006 other newspapers started getting interested, Phoenix New Times start the running it, march or April 2006, all across the country, and the same reactions that happened in orange county happened in phoenix and other cities, lot of outrage at first, then people started sending in questions and reading the column to see I was legitimate and it became one of the most popular things in every newspaper, now it's in 35 newspapers in the country, weekly circulation of 2 million. It's insane.

>>Gustavo Arrellano:
To me it's important to expose hatred in this country. If we allow hatred to fester, it's going to grow, the cockroach theory. You shine a light on them, the cockroaches scurry around, but you keep shining lights on them and they'll have no place to go except the rubber end of a boot.

>> Aguila Youth Leadership Institute prepares Latino student's interested fingerprint attending college. From researching colleges to researching financial aid they hope to help parents and parts pants with the information and skills to succeed in college. Joining me to talk about the institute is Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez, c.e.o. and founder of the institute. Rosemary, welcome to Horizonte.

>>Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez
Thank you, thank you for having me.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Let's talk about how Aguila was started.

>>Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez:
Well, it's been a vision of mine for over 20 years and the work that I've done with youth and the youth programming. Also as a student myself, going through college and trying to find my way through college, the barriers, the challenges in college and resources and information, it was something I had in the back of my head for a long time. My masters in doctoral work involved youth programming specific to youth involved in crime and violence and to be honest with you, I just got tired of the negativity and I wanted to do something positive. So I had this idea for a long time to help specifically Latino youth to get into college, how could they get into college, because I myself did not have the resources and information when I came out of high school, had I had the resources I'm sure I would have done something else. So I decided that I would do this and it actually took my sister taking me to Europe, and I thought to myself as I was at the Eiffel Tower, this is a true story. I was at the Eiffel Tower pondering whether to leave this wonderful job as a deputy city manager for the city of Surprise, would I leave it and do -- take this risk, take this jump, and I looked at the Eiffel Tower to Paris and I thought wow, there's a great big world out there, should I do it? Should I do it? I looked down on this wooden banister and there were letters, I took a picture, it said A-S-U in Paris. I said wow, that's all I needed.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
That inspiration, what does the program do for kids to deal with, for example, as we talked in the interim, the admissions process?

>>Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez:
Well, it's so overwhelming for a lot of students. They really don't have the information. A lot of the students we have we'll ask them do you have all this information that you need to get into college, and they're so overwhelmed with everything that they need to prepare for college, while they're going to high school they're involved in many activities and for some they're working, trying to help the family at home, so what we do is we bring in different speakers, presenters, to help them demystify all of those myths about college, about the admissions process, the paperwork, getting through the paperwork, we go through it with them step by step.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
And this is free for them?

>>Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez:
Absolutely free.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
How many kids do you have in the program right now?

>>Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez:
We have 122 that are in college and 108 juniors, we anticipate we'll have about 60 incoming sophomores in 2009 January and then we will have freshmen coming in 2010.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Let's talk about some of the success stories. What can you tell us about some of the people who have gone through the program and how they're doing?

>>Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez:
Well, we have -- I just got an email tonight. I love getting all the emails from the students. They constantly stay in contact with me. And it's very important to note that once they graduate from high school and they graduate from Aguila simultaneously and go off to college, we stay with them. We have the Aguila Alumni Association, so they still stay in contact with us as well as each other. And I just got an email just before I came here from one of our students who said oh, thank you, Mrs. H, they call me Mrs. H, thank you, I just received my internship through inroads, he's going to work with Walgreens, now he's not going to be stocking product. He's going to be working in Walgreens management. So they receive a lot of resources.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
We've got the web address on the screen so people can get the information there. But you've also had students who have done remarkably well in terms of scholarship offers they've received. Tell us about that.

>>Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez:
Absolutely wonderful. We've graduate the 52 seniors just this past month in may and we have a student -- our first full ride Gates Millennium Scholar who's off to Purdue, covered for four years of his undergrad, and then his half of his graduate school. We have the bulk of our students really do come to A-S-U, and A-S-U Has been wonderful and has a lot of wonderful scholarships, Provost scholarships, leadership scholars, we also have two going to St. Mary's University in San Antonio with a $96,000 package.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
That's incredible. We're going to have to end with that. But thank you so much for joining us 0 I thank you so much for having us here.

>>Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez:
Thank you so much for having us.

>>Jose Cárdenas:
Next week on Horizonte, an organization honoring the memory of a child who died of leukemia, how her legacy lives on by providing other children and families comfort while undergoing treatment at a valley hospital. That's at 7:30, next Thursday on Horizonte. I'm Jose Cardenas. Thank you for joining us tonight. See you next week.

Rosemary Ybarra Hernandez: CEO and Founder, Aguila Youth Leadership Institute ;

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