Beth Winegarner's news articles

San Francisco Bay Area community news

Archive for the ‘Palo Alto’ Category

Beauty schooler nabbed taking photos in bathroom

leave a comment »

Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
April 5, 2007

A Palo Alto man arrested on charges of illegally photographing a student in a Sequoia High School men’s room will return to San Mateo County Court on May 2 to face misdemeanor charges.

David Hill, 33, was arrested March 29 at the high school, where he was offering haircuts during a job fair, according to Redwood City Police Department Capt. Chris Cesena. Hill allegedly entered a men’s restroom and began photographing a male student, who reported the incident to school officials. They, in turn, called police.

Hill was arrested just after noon and taken to San Mateo County Jail, where he was cited and released, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. He has no record of prior offenses in San Mateo County.

When he returns to court, Hill faces two misdemeanor charges, one related to taking photographs in a bathroom or dressing room, and another related to harrassing a juvenile, according to Cesena.

“An adult did a stupid thing, which we quickly handled,” Sequoia High School District Superintendent Pat Gemma said. “We’re still trying to sort out what this guy’s purpose was. Now the courts will deal with him.”

Hill is a cosmetology student at College of San Mateo, according to Cesena. Officials at the college would not formally comment on the situation Thursday.

“We do not comment on matters that are being handled by the appropriate law enforcement agency,” said Beverly Madden, a spokeswoman for the college.

Officials at CSM are following disciplinary procedures, Madden added. Although the college’s student handbook does not explicitly address illegal activities performed off campus, students who violate CSM policy face disciplinary action ranging from removal of student privileges to suspension or expulsion.

In an unrelated case, San Carlos School District coach Neal Sato was convicted in 2006 on charges that he videotaped several female members of his volleyball team while they changed in his office. Last November, Sato pleaded no contest to the molestation of four 13-year-old girls connected with the videotaping plot. He was sentenced to six years in state prison, Wagstaffe said.

Sato, 35, of San Bruno, was alleged to have videotaped up to about 100 female students, many of whom could not be identified by investigators due to the quality of the video footage, as they changed clothes in his office in 2004 and 2005.

This article originally appeared in San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

April 5, 2007 at 10:20 PM

Deportation forces kids to make tough choices

leave a comment »

Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
April 3, 2007

Four local children, all U.S. citizens, are leaving the country Friday to remain with their parents, who have been ordered deported by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Their father, Pedro Ramirez, was deported to Mexico Feb. 28 within hours of his arrest. Their mother, Isabel Aguirre, was immediately placed under house arrest and ordered to leave the country by Friday, leaving the future of their four children in question. Ramirez and Aguirre have lived in the United State since 1985 and 1989, respectively.

All four children — 6-year-old Adriana, 10-year-old Yadira, 12-year-old Adrian and 15-year-old Pedro — have chosen to go to Mexico to remain with their parents rather than be placed in foster homes, the family’s advocates said at a press conference Monday. While the advocates decried recent ICE raids for tearing families apart, ICE officials said that it’s parents choosing to remain in the country illegally — not federal immigrations officers — who put their children at risk.

“The parents know they are in the country illegally, and they should have been expecting at some point that this would pose risks and consequences for their children,” ICE spokeswoman Laurie Haley said. Ramirez and Aguirre were ordered deported in 2000 and lost an appeal on that order in 2005, according to Haley.

The press conference was held at the first United Methodist Church and organized by American Muslim Voice, and the speakers were from those organizations as well as other spiritual groups. Many of the speakers, including the children, said the choice between deportation and foster care seemed unfair.

“I would rather stay here,” said Adrian, a student at Terman Middle School. “We have a better education here, and I’m going to leave my friends behind.”

Chris Schultz, a math teacher at Gunn High School, said he has consoled Pedro a number of times regarding his decision to move to Mexico.

“It’s not fair to make any 15-year-old have to make that kind of life-separating choice,” Schultz said.

ICE stepped up its enforcement efforts in October 2006, targeting immigrants who have ignored deportation orders, Haley said. Since then, its officers have made 1,400 arrests, including 785 “fugitives” and 615 with no prior deportation orders. By the end of this year, ICE will increase the number of teams working nationally from 52 to 75, according to Haley.

ICE raids in San Francisco and the Peninsula frightened many immigrants, some of whom stopped going to work or kept children home from school for fear they would be detained while at schools or on the job. While San Francisco is a sanctuary city, meaning its police force does not check citizenship papers or cooperate in the deportation of residents, some Peninsula cities do check residents’ status.

This story originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

April 3, 2007 at 11:39 PM

Posted in immigration, Palo Alto

Local officials resist immigration sweeps

leave a comment »

Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer
February 26, 2007

In the wake of recent sweeps by immigration officers in San Francisco and on the Peninsula, officials are struggling to assure residents that local police are not cooperating with federal deportation efforts.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will weigh a resolution, sponsored by Supervisors Chris Daly, Gerardo Sandoval and Tom Ammiano, that condemns the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Meanwhile, the newly formed Redwood City Coalition for Immigrant Rights plansto bring a similar resolution to the Redwood City Council and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and perhaps create a “sanctuary” policy similar to San Francisco’s, in which law officers do not check residents’ citizenship status, according to Sheryl Bergman with the International Institute of San Francisco.

The San Francisco vote comes on the heels of a similar resolution sponsored by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd urging Congress to resume immigration reform talks abandoned last year.

“There are thousands of illegal immigrants living in the shadows, and our quality of life issues still affect them,” Elsbernd said. “They are here and by no means should we ignore them.”

Redwood City police officers and San Mateo County Sheriff’s officers already do not check immigration paperwork, but members of the coalition hope to make that message stronger, according to Bergman.

“A resolution would go a long way toward unifying the community and reassuring [residents],” Bergman said. “These are our neighbors, and we need to insist on policies that respect constitutional rights and public safety.”

Between Oct. 1, 2006, and Jan. 26, 2007, ICE officers arrested 838 people, 500 of whom had already received a deportation order from a judge and 338 of whom were newly entered into deportation proceedings, according to ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice. Those arrests included a number of San Mateo County residents, while ICE officers swept through a San Francisco meatpacking plant and have been seen checking papers in the Tenderloin, according to Renee Saucedo, attorney and organizer with La Raza Central Legal.

“We recognize the fact that local law enforcement has a very different mission from ICE,” Kice said. “But part of ICE’s mission is enforcing immigration laws, and people who are in the country illegally are subject to arrest.”

Redwood City parents kept children home from school recentlyafter a mother was arrested and unable to pick up her children.

Enrollment levels began returning to normal last week, according to John Baker, assistant superintendent in the Redwood City School District.

Those arrests have sparked outcry from immigrant-rights groups and high-ranking politicians alike. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decried the raids in a statement this month, while Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, told ICE in a letter that its efforts are undermining local police’s efforts to build trust within immigrant communities.

Immigrant-rights groups are planning a series of events this week in San Francisco.

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Written by Beth Winegarner

February 26, 2007 at 10:36 PM