On the same day that Donald Trump went to Texas to surround himself with Border Patrol agents and continue dramatizing his manufactured crisis, another Border Patrol agent was pleading not guilty to the murders of four women last September.
The Associated Press reports that Juan David Ortiz “entered the pleas Thursday before a judge in the border city of Laredo. He is accused of killing Melissa Ramirez, Claudine Luera, Guiselda Alicia Cantu and Janelle Ortiz,” a transgender woman. “Accused,” though prosecutors said last year that Ortiz had confessed to killing the women during a ten-day murder spree, and to nearly taking the life of a fifth victim.
Erika Peña no doubt saved other lives when she escaped Ortiz’s truck and alerted authorities to his whereabouts. Ortiz had targeted the women, who had been or at the time were sex workers, because he thought “no one would care for them." But their deaths have also been vastly overshadowed by coverage of Trump’s daily avalanche of stupid tweets and constant lies about immigrant communities.
Instead of one more penny for the administration’s mass-deportation agenda, what these women and others who have died under the watch of agents from federal immigration agencies need is justice, because senseless deaths tied to Customs and Border Protection and to Immigration and Customs Enforcement have continued, with no accountability and no answers.
Guiselda Alicia Hernandez, Claudine Ann Luera, Melissa Ramirez, and Janelle Ortiz (who was also known to some friends as Nikki Enriquez) mattered. “We’re going to remember my sister and how beautiful she looked … her smile,” Luera’s sister Colette, clutching a framed photograph, said last year. “We’re going to remember her life. She was a mom, she was a sister, a niece, and a good friend to all.”