Valley Migrant Worker Sues Iowa Residents Over Alleged Hate Crime

WESLACO, Texas – July 12, 2011 – Rio Grande Valley resident Rafael Trevino has filed a lawsuit against nine Iowa residents claiming he was the victim of a hate crime after a group of young people kidnapped and beat him while he was working as a migrant farmworker in Wall Lake, Iowa.

Represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), Trevino claims he was kidnapped and severely beaten by a group of young adults on the evening of August 3, 2009. The assailants punched and kicked Trevino repeatedly, leaving him with numerous broken bones and deep scars. During the attack, the assailants cheered each other on and repeatedly shouted racial epithets. The group then falsely accused Trevino of crimes they knew he did not commit, resulting in his arrest.

“This was a heinous act committed against someone solely because of the color of his skin,” said TRLA attorney Jerry Wesevich. “No human being should ever be treated this way.”

The lawsuit accuses the youth of committing a hate crime, assault, battery, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and civil rights violations. It also names two Iowa policemen who assisted the youth in attempting to cover up the attack.

Added Wesevich, “No matter where they are, migrant workers should not fear for their safety while they work to support their families. Their labor is vital to this economy and this type of disgusting treatment is not acceptable.”

For more information on this case, including a copy of the lawsuit and photographs of Trevino’s injuries, visit

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services.


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