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tv   NBC Bay Area News We Investigate  NBC  March 25, 2017 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT

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then. bob ingersoll: i would describe it as horror. announcer: we expose medical testing on primates that's happening here in northern california, and reveal records the federal government doesn't want you to see. but first. nathan fletcher: anyone willing to die for their country should have a country willing to give them citizenship. announcer: they served this country, but then broke the law. and because they're not citizens, hundreds of veterans once promised us citizenship have been deported by the very country they fought to protect. here's senior investigative reporter stephen stock. stephen stock: good evening, and thank you for joining us. for the next 30 minutes, "we investigate," telling stories about people, uncovering issues, and holding the powerful accountable. tonight, our special starts just across the us-mexican border, in tijuana, mexico. we went there to speak with deported us military veterans. a law dating back to president bill clinton allows the
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us government to deport any non-citizen who commits a crime, even a minor crime. this applies even if those people have served in the us military. and because of that, we discovered hundreds of us veterans deported by the very country they were willing to die for. stephen: when you walk out of tony romo's back porch overlooking the pacific, you might think you're looking at paradise. tony romo: as you can see, there's san diego. stephen: but in reality, it's paradise lost for tony romo, who feels trapped here. tony: it's just like prisoners of war, you know, all of us together. stephen: romo, a retired marine who led raids into iraq during the buildup to the gulf war, was deported by the very country he served, forced to live here after serving time in a us jail for selling drugs. tony: i miss the marine corps, i miss my country.
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my dad is over there, my daughter, my brothers. stephen: even so, romo's allegiance remains to the country he can see from his back porch, just beyond the border wall. tony: and it is a great country. and i'd defend it any time, i still would. stephen: we found dozens of us veterans now living in tijuana, veterans like armando scott, a retired marine. armando scott: all the deported veterans, i would bring them home. stephen: all of them non-citizens who served in the us military, dating back to the vietnam war. richard avila: i've never lived in mexico. i've been in the united states since i was one year old. how can they repatriate me to a country that i've never lived in? stephen: all of them deported for committing crimes classified as aggravated felonies, things like drug possession, failure to show up in court, or entering the country illegally. in this report issued by the aclu of california in july of last year, they were able to identify some 250 us veterans deported to at least 34 different countries.
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our investigation found at least 60 veterans living here in the tijuana, mexico area. hector barajas: i don't think it's right, but you know, that's the law. stephen: a deported us army veteran himself, hector barajas helped the aclu prepare that report. he says the number of deported veterans keeps growing. hector: we've come into contact with veterans either being in the process of being deported, or already deported, at least 301, we're up to 301. stephen: barajas served two years in prison after pleading guilty to illegal discharge of a firearm in compton in southern california. deported in 2004, he now runs a shelter here in tijuana nicknamed the bunker, where deported veterans can get help with job prospects, immigration advice, and legal services. hector: my allegiance is to the united states, it's not to mexico. i was born in mexico, but my allegiance, and who i choose to die and fight for, is the united states of america. stephen: our investigation found 70,000 non-citizens enlisted in the us military between 2009 and 2016.
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at least half of them never applied for citizenship according to the center for naval analyses, leaving them vulnerable to deportation. richard: i'm willing to put my life on the line for the country that i love. stephen: and yet, your country that you love deports you. richard: the only country that i've ever known. stephen: to a man, these vets served their time in jail, prison, or probation for the crimes they committed here in the us. no one knows exactly how many there are because the us government does not track them. who do you blame here? did the military drop the ball? nathan: yeah, the department of defense did. stephen: retired marine and former california assemblyman nathan fletcher says he was shocked when he learned about these deported vets. nathan: anyone willing to die for their country should have a country willing to give them citizenship. and it's what they were promised when they joined. stephen: fletcher is now lobbying congress to change the law and allow these veterans back. nathan: if we had 300 americans who were missing
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in iraq or afghanistan, we would stop the gravitational spin of the earth to bring them home. sharon rummery: they just have to qualify to be a us citizen. stephen: sharon rummery represents the us citizenship and immigration services, the federal agency that processes citizenship. while officials with the department of defense declined our request for an interview, rummery did agree to sit down with us and answer our questions. sharon: well, if you've been convicted of certain offenses, it's a deportable act. stephen: even if you've served as a veteran? sharon: oh, that's right, yes. stephen: does that seem fair? sharon: it's--we don't ask ourselves what's fair or not fair. we simply are here to administer the law. that's what we're charged with, that's what we do. hector: these are some of the men that have passed away here in mexico. stephen: in one of the saddest ironies involving this issue, current law allows these veterans to return to the us after they die. nathan: we will bring their dead body across the border. we will go to a military cemetery, we will give them a 21-gun salute, we will play "taps," we will fold the flag,
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and a military officer will hand the flag to the family member and say, "a grateful nation appreciates your husband's service." hector: there's no honor in that, there's no honor in that, in only allowing these men to return when they die or when they're at the point of death. stephen: we found the grave of one such veteran, manuel castano, who had been deported to juarez, mexico, now back in the us, resting finally in peace in a national cemetery in el paso, texas. many of these veterans told us they were promised us citizenship by their recruiters. we found that many others also thought they were citizens when they took the oath to serve in the military. the armed forces have increased educational materials on this issue, and have been doing a better job of providing citizenship applications since 2009. but that still leaves tens of thousands of veterans vulnerable to deportation. announcer: coming up next, truck drivers worried about
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their safety and yours. we look into claims that a device designed to cut pollution could be sparking fires. [music]
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you might think differently when you see a big rig. many truck drivers describe their vehicles as traveling time bombs. tonight, the drivers tell us there's a hidden danger on their trucks that could spark a fire on a highway you drive. keith: it tells you regen required. vicky: keith daniels knows trucks. keith: thirty-nine years driving truck, i got a little over five million miles. vicky: miles spent crisscrossing california roadways, hauling everything from solid waste to soda pop. keith: it's just a good occupation, got all my kids through college. you know, paid for my house and all my toys. vicky: but last february, keith could only watch as his beloved truck burned.
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keith: i timed it, 8 minutes, that truck was burned to the frame. so, that's all it took. vicky: you could have been inside that truck. keith: could have been sitting in there when it caught on fire. i mean, i do feel fortunate that i was out of it, didn't get burned, you know, trying to save the truck. you know, it's your truck. jason daniels: that's something to me that can be completely preventable. vicky: keith's son jason now runs the family trucking business in eureka. jason: it scares the crap out of me. it could have been bad. if he was in there, you're talking about a crime scene. vicky: jason, like many other truckers we spoke with, believes the fire was caused by a diesel particulate filter, or dpf. california started requiring the device for all diesel engine vehicles in 2007. roughly a million trucks in this state are equipped with one, and those trucks travel the country. the filter traps 99% of the soot produced by diesel trucks, cutting air pollution by capturing small particles from a truck's exhaust before they get into the air. keith says his truck fire ignited while the filter was
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undergoing a cleaning process called regeneration, burning all that captured soot into a fine ash. the cause of the fire is undetermined, but insurance investigators suspect it started somewhere in the exhaust treatment system. the report notes the company investigated several similar fires, but pinpointing the cause is difficult because, quote, "the exhaust gets so hot that evidence is consumed." bud caldwell: the filters are expensive, they are dangerous, and they don't work. vicky: bud caldwell owns a petroleum and trucking company. he formed the alliance for california business to challenge the state's rules requiring filters. the group points to a series of filter failures, including 2 recalls for filters linked to 3 fires, including a 5,000-acre fire in washington that destroyed 29 homes. bud: these were not ready for primetime when they were put forward. vicky: caldwell's group and the daniels family are suing the
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state, asking for restitution for drivers with damaged trucks, and an independent review of the filter's safety. todd sacks: diesel particulate filters do not cause fires. vicky: todd sacks is the chief of enforcement at carb, the california air resources board. you say there's no link between diesel particulate filters and fires, but in your report here, you investigate the 13 fires, you found 3 fires were linked to dpf filters, and then you issued 2 recalls. is that true? todd: that is true that we issued two recalls. vicky: sacks acknowledges some of the initial filters put on the market were linked to fires, others to expensive repairs. but he's confident newer trucks with filters work safely. he says carb investigated roughly 3 dozen fires since 2009. todd: we have looked at the fire issue extensively, and we don't see any evidence between the filters that are on-road today and fires. vicky: while carb's research hasn't found a connection between fires and newer filters, agency data reveals a high failure rate for the dpfs made from 2007 to 2011.
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those faulty parts are still used on trucks today. why hasn't carb come down stronger and addressed these issues sooner? because these parts are failing at such a high rate. todd: well, partly it relates to the design of the regulation itself. there are a number of hoops that we have to jump through, things that we have to prove in order to be able to force the manufacturers to take action. in this case, we're essentially not able to do so. vicky: and what happens to the truckers and the businesses and these folks in between while all that's happening? todd: well, like i said, these trucks are safe to drive. if they have problems with the trucks, they're going to need to repair them. vicky: as for keith daniels, the lifelong trucker says he hopes this issue will be resolved, and soon, so other drivers won't have the same close call he did. keith: you think that you can go out and do your job and come home safely, you know. vicky: the alliance for california business first sued the state unsuccessfully in 2015, but they say this lawsuit
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contains new exhaust fires, including keith's. meanwhile, carb is working to get manufacturers to fix their faulty parts. announcer: coming up next. evan: the school let me down immeasurably. announcer: he says classmates bullied him because he's black, and teachers failed to stop it. we reveal the missteps at a north bay school that led to a federal investigation.
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he says his classmates took his dignity, then his school failed to act. a local high school student subjected to a long pattern of harassment because of the color of his skin. now, his parents are telling us the district hasn't met their expectations, and we found their claims are backed up by other students and a federal investigation. liz: as a kid, football meant everything to evan mack, and he couldn't wait to play at sebastopol's analy high school.
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evan: i went to that school because it held this promise of making my life better. liz: but mack says the school made his life worse. evan: all i got from the day i showed up on that campus was nothing but disappointment after disappointment after disappointment. liz: he says students made racist comments, teachers overlooked it, and administrators failed to act in a district where black and biracial students make up just 6% of the population. mack says on the field, kids used racial slurs. and in class, they called him the n-word. evan: and i would say, "could we please not do that?" liz: around campus, he noticed the confederate flag on clothing and cars. a former classmate posted this picture on social media. and in the locker room, he says he once overheard some teammates singing this david allan coe song. ♪ decent could girl ever -- a greasy -- ♪ liz: he tells us the language happened within earshot of school staff, but no one intervened.
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evan: it was the kind of thing that you didn't talk about for one, or that if you did talk about it, that no one really even cared. liz: mack kept quiet for 2 years, until he showed his parents these online exchanges with two students. raquel mack: just because you're a -- and think like that doesn't mean i do, and i will punch you in the -- mouth. liz: raquel and john mack brought the threats to the west sonoma county union high school district. officials spoke with the students and, according to this letter, warned one of them about any continued harassment. the other left the school. they discussed with the coach ways to ensure all players feel supported. then the principal closed the case. liz: how would you describe the school's investigation? john mack: there wasn't one. raquel: no, there was no investigation. liz: so, the macks sent a complaint to the us department of education's office for civil rights here in san francisco. it investigated, and last fall issued this 20-page report, noting the district's failure to follow its own grievance procedures, and finding its investigation
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was not appropriate. it amounted to a civil rights violation. the district didn't admit any wrongdoing, but agreed to make changes, create an anti-harassment statement, provide training, and conduct climate surveys about race. the district told the feds the climate for african-american students was welcoming and friendly. male: they're like they would say the n-word all the time. liz: but these kids say they felt like outsiders. kika gutierrez: like, they tried to call evan mack's situation, like, a singular situation, and say that it was just him. it is not just him. they treat--they treat other kids of color like that. liz: do you feel like administrators at your former high school had your back? kika: no. no, not at all. liz: when their parents pulled them from analy, they say school leaders never followed up. what does that say to you? female: that they didn't care. liz: we wanted to ask the district why it took a federal investigation for analy to confront an apparent racial divide. officials declined an interview request, citing a lawsuit the mack family filed last month.
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the superintendent tells us he's following the federal agreement, writing the district takes these matters very seriously and strives to provide an environment free of harassment and discrimination for everyone. evan: there needs to be a mutual culture of respect. liz: evan mack will graduate from a new high school this year, but his parents want accountability for all students in his former district, a district in a city where people want to get rid of racism, not promote it. now, the department of education's findings here signal serious action, and it doesn't happen very often. last year, the feds received nearly 2,500 racial discrimination complaints. they found violations and resolved just 57 cases nationally, 17 in california. announcer: coming up next, we investigate medical testing on primates happening here in northern california, and expose records the federal government doesn't want you to see.
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it's a type of research that many scientists believe could eventually cure parkinson's disease, zika, and even aids. we're talking about experiments with non-human primates, mostly monkeys. here in northern california, one university is housing more than 6,000 monkeys. now, critics argue the research is outdated, barbaric, and sometimes deadly. usda regulates these experiments, but recently pulled a ton of documents and inspection records off its website. we managed to get that data before it was removed. and tonight, we'll show you what the federal government doesn't want you to see. meet maya, an 11-year-old rhesus macaque monkey that used to be the subject of research experiments in california. now, each time he makes eye contact with a human,
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he immediately motions to bite his arm. it's a behavior some believe he developed while inside the lab that he left 4 years ago. darren tindell: it never goes away, i don't think. bigad: darren tindell runs mindy's memory primate sanctuary in newcastle, oklahoma. he rehabilitates former lab monkeys and pets, and says many still show emotional and physical scars. darren: once in captivity, they're always going to, you know, be affected from it, you know, for the rest of their lives. bigad: the sanctuary is home to 80 primates from across the country. darren: about a quarter of our monkeys right now come from california. bigad: nationwide, research labs house more than 100,000 primates. at least 25,000 are used for experiments that can cause pain or distress. of those primates, about 740 are never given any form of pain medication since that could interfere with the research. bob: this is surgery, this is implants in their skulls, in their craniums.
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bigad: bob ingersoll has been studying primates for 40 years. bob: it's not as if i don't think that medical research has ever been helpful because it has. thirty years ago, you might have had to do that because there wasn't another method on the horizon to get you there. but there is now. bigad: ingersoll is now advocating for alternatives, like this research out of uc berkeley, where scientists created real, living, beating human heart tissue. it's all connected to a computer, and could eventually be used to test the impact of drugs in humans, doing away with one major need for primates, but not all according to some scientists. carrie wolinetz: those who say that the use of animals in research and non-human primates in research is unnecessary are simply wrong. bigad: dr. carrie wolinetz is the associate director for science policy at the national institutes of health, which funds much of the country's primate research. she spoke to us from nih headquarters in maryland.
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carrie: biologically, they're very similar to humans. bigad: primate testing is credited for helping develop the polio vaccine, insulin for diabetes, the hepatitis b vaccine, and treatments for parkinson's disease, to name a few. researchers at duke university say primate testing also allowed them to develop prosthetic arms and legs that can communicate directly with the human brain. carrie: these are areas in which we just haven't developed sort of alternative technologies that allow us to replace non-human primates. bigad: you don't believe the science is there yet? carrie: the science is not there yet. bigad: but critics point to problems over how researchers are caring for the animals. not including federal facilities, there are 159 primate research centers throughout the us. sixty-nine percent have been cited over the past three years, with seventy-seven violations directly impacting the health of animals. uc davis is home to one of the largest research centers in the country, with more than 6,000 primates.
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lindsey ruben: that's absolutely almost unfathomable. that's a huge amount of animals bigad: lindsey ruben and other critics of the university's primate program stage silent protests on campus each month to raise awareness. lindsey: we feel that the science that they're doing can't be trusted if they can't keep their primates safe, alive, and keep them from escaping. bigad: the uc davis primate center has been cited 13 times in the past 3 years, and is under federal investigation for repeated violations following serious injuries and deaths of research monkeys. the center is largely funded with your taxpayer dollars. but officials there wouldn't talk to us or allow us inside to show you the facility. in a statement, they said, "incidents are rare," and added, "the welfare of our animals is extremely important to us, and we take each incident very seriously." the center also points to its own medical breakthroughs, including a possible hiv vaccine that's now in human trials.
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darren tindell hopes scientists scale back their use of primates, and focus more on alternatives that would mean fewer monkeys in the lab and here at the sanctuary. darren: ideally, places like this shouldn't have to exist. bigad: you want to be put out of business. darren: sure, absolutely, yes. but in the long term, there's just going to be a lot of this for a long time. bigad: the usda cited privacy concerns in its decision to pull animal inspection reports off its website. while the agency recently restored some of those documents, many are still missing. usda says its plan to limit public access to those records was already in the works before the trump administration took over. if you have a story for us, call our tip line at 888-996-tips, or send an email to and that's our show for tonight, thanks for watching. you're invited to join us here regularly at nbc bay area, where "we investigate."
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spring has sprung, and with a change of seasons comes a change of style. work to "access hollywood," the weekend edition. and our special spring style show. i'm liz hernandez. >> and i'm scott evans. let's start with one emma watson. her new movie "beauty and the
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beast" will continue to dominate the box office over spring. >> and to celebrate, we took this star and her co-star, dan stevens, on a fashion flashback. ♪ >> oh, my goodness. come on. >> isn't that sweet? >> kind of amazing, purple, fake snake skin boots. they're pretty cool. >> it was at the london premiere of the first "harry potter" film in 2001 that emma wore those purple boots. a week later, she was all in green at the new york premiere. >> nice ensemble today. >> thank you. >> you look like peter pan. >> i kind of do. this outfit belonged to my stepmother. this was her scarf. these were her shoes. i think the trousers were mine. but i used


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