Genesis by the Sea
Raided and Closed by the Police
Baja raids shut
boarding schools for U.S. teens
By Sandra Dibble and Anna
September 11, 2004
ENSENADA – Hundreds of U.S.
teens enrolled in private rehabilitation centers were being sent
home yesterday after Mexican health and immigration authorities shut
down three Baja California facilities.
The largest group of
students, 536, had been enrolled in a boarding program at Casa by
the Sea outside Ensenada. A group of 20 had been living at Casa La
Esperanza in Ensenada, and a third group of 26 students was enrolled
at Genesis south of Rosarito Beach.
Reports of foreigners and
complaints that minors were being mistreated led to the raids,
according to a statement late yesterday by Mexico's National
The schools' behavior
modification programs are aimed at youths with drug dependency and
behavior problems. Parents commonly use them as a last resort. The
schools have been accused of moving abroad to avoid scrutiny of U.S.
government authorities for their controversial methods.
At Casa by the Sea, four
residents showed signs of physical and emotional mistreatment,
including one from El Salvador, the Mexican immigration statement
At Genesis, youths told
immigration authorities that they were physically and emotionally
mistreated, the statement said, without offering details.
The director of Casa La
Esperanza was expelled for conducting activities not authorized by
his tourist visa. But the statement otherwise avoided legal terms
such as "expulsion" or "deportation."
The 20 minors at Casa La
Esperanza had "irregular" migratory documentation, and along with
one adult were turned over to U.S. immigration officials at the San
Ysidro crossing, the statement said.
The minors from Genesis also
were turned in at the border.
Some residents of Casa by
the Sea were allowed to leave with their parents. But hundreds of
others remained at the facility untilfamily members could be
The U.S. Consulate in
Tijuana sent staff members to the three centers "making sure
everything is done in accordance with Mexican law," said spokeswoman
Liza Davis. "If kids need to be repatriated to the U.S., we're
getting in touch with their families and facilitating that process."
Luz Ramos, the coordinator
of medical services at Casa by the Sea, said late yesterday that
government officials had regularly inspected the center.
"We are regulated, we have
the best in services. . . . This is a total surprise."
Staff members at the other
two centers could not be reached.
At Casa by the Sea, confused
and worried parents showed up throughout the day at the unmarked and
walled compound just north of Ensenada, asking state police to allow
Several parents and a
student interviewed outside the center said they had no complaints.
Carol Rivardi of Orange
County had been waiting since the morning to see her 16-year-old
daughter. "The staff is absolutely phenomenal. My daughter's
behavior has totally changed," she said.
Larry Horn of Agoura Hills
said his 15-year-old son had problems with drugs, alcohol, bad
grades and disrespect to his parents. "We tried rehab for six weeks,
but these kids need a lot more than that," he said.
Casa by the Sea bills itself
as a "specialty program for teens . . . who are struggling in their
home, school or community."
The cost is $70 per day,
according to its Web site.
Relatives unable to contact
the centers for information about family members should call the
U.S. Consulate's San Diego number at (619) 692-2154.
Sandra Dibble: (619)