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Friday, 9 April 2010

US: 'sans papiers' gay migrant faces deportation after reporting hate crime

Source: New York Daily News

By Erica Pearson

The mother of a Brooklyn man who faces deportation after being arrested when he told cops he was the victim of an anti-gay hate crime wants justice.

"It hurts me so much," said his mom, Jorgelina Aguirre. "He's there in jail unjustly."

Aguirre, supported by the nonprofit group Make the Road New York, will hold a news conference Wednesday to call for the Brooklyn district attorney to drop charges against her son.

Ricardo Muñiz, 23, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, told police he was dancing with another gay friend at a Flatbush bar in July when an older man started making anti-gay slurs.

According to Muñiz, two men, including the one who had insulted him, followed him and his two friends when they left the bar after it closed at 4:30 a.m. They were walking along Caton Ave. toward Ocean Ave., he said, when the taunts began again.

Muñiz told his mother that one of the men yelled, "You're going to die, f----t."

Muñiz said he tried to calm the situation when his friends began to fight with the two men. "I intervened, telling the younger man to calm down. That's when he took off his belt, wrapped it around his hand and attacked me with the buckle," he told police, later saying that the older man took a bat from his car and hit him with it.

But the investigating officer at the 70th Precinct stationhouse soon became skeptical about Muñiz's account, police sources aid.

At the scene, cops found Jose Cruz, the older man, badly injured. Cruz had to be placed in a medically induced coma and spent several weeks in Kings County Hospital, police said.

Muñiz said Cruz hurt himself when he fell during the struggle.

Police also said Muñiz listed an incorrect phone number on the report and was difficult to reach.

Two weeks later, Muñiz, who was working as a busboy, was arrested at the Bushwick home he shared with his mom. Prosecutors charged him with first-degree assault, and he has been held without bail at Rikers Island since.

"It seems to be ridiculous," said his lawyer Deron Castro. "He was the victim of a hate crime. He was the one who was being attacked. He should never have been arrested in this case."

Aguirre said she's astounded that such an injustice could happen in America.

"He suffered discrimination in Mexico, and we wanted to come to the U.S. so he could live confidently and be open with his sexuality," said Aguirre, 45, who works as a seamstress. "I thought that this was a fair country, but it isn't."

Make the Road New York staffers said if the incident had been prosecuted as a hate crime, Muñiz would have qualified for a U-visa, which gives temporary legal status to victims.

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