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‘We’re behaving criminal … violating our laws

Jennifer Marbury  |  Issue: July | August 2019

Men with black masks burst in saying, ‘We’re taking you for your own safety!’



LAS CRUCES – In April the Border Patrol released more than 1,000 migrants in Las Cruces, NM. This was due to a shortage of ICE detention centers.


My name’s Jennifer Marbury. I’m a local human rights activist and civil rights lawyer. I’ve been down in the Rio Grande Valley for 40 years.

The situation almost everywhere is that people are not being allowed on the bridge. They cannot walk up to the ports of entry offices, they cannot knock on the door and say, “I’m here, I want to apply for asylum” and then be taken in and detained if there’s some reason to detain them.


migrant boy



Usually you do the FBI check, the Interpol check, and the fingerprint check. If you have legal sponsors, you’re released. That’s how it’s always been. Now they’re all prisoners for years on end. That’s the punishment.

Many people are held in a basement dungeon in a federal building. This has happened several times.


migrant father and daughter



What I know most specifically is about a group of a hundred Central Americans, most of them Guatemalans.

Men with black masks came bursting in and saying, “We’re taking you for your own safety.” They split them up into groups of 20 to 25. They took them to the different cartels and gang routes and sold them to the highest bidder.


migrant mother and son



One group of Guatemalans ended up in a house with some traffickers. The migrants were so scared that they used the gas stove to light up a fire and burned down the house. Ran through the flames in the middle of the night, with people shooting at them.

When asked, “Do you want us to try to get you a visa so you can stay somewhere legally in México?”


migrant mother and baby



The Guatemalans said, “No, we don’t want to go to the United States anymore. We don’t want to be in Mexico. We want to go back to Guatemala.” That’s how bad it is.

They’re being trafficked, they’re being raped or being battered. And we’re keeping them there and saying that’s what they deserve for trying to come north.


migrants as bus station



It’s an emergency and we’ve completely willing to trade all of those values that underlie everything in this country.

What are some of the things we can do?

What we’ve done before: temporary protected status. People are here temporarily while the drug war rages until things cool off and it’s safe to go home. Meanwhile, they’re safe here.

And we are not only in violation of our own laws, U.S. laws and treaties that say you can’t send them back to danger. We’re behaving criminally. Becky – ella ayudó en la Misión de Rescate del Evangelio cuando fue a Las Cruces, Nuevo México.

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