The New York Times: They Were Stopped at the Texas Border. Their Nightmare Had Only Just Begun.

After crossing the Rio Grande, three immigrant women were picked up by a Border Patrol agent. Their relief soon turned to terror.
12 November, 2018

merlin_133357848_a922aecb-924c-4037-b9c0-69e44ec8f695-jumboM.G. showing the scars on her wrists. Credit: Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times.

Commentary by Francois Crépeau: “The more one represses undocumented migration, the more one pushes such migrants into the hands of criminals, be they smuggling rings, human traffickers, unethical recruiters, exploitative employers, greedy landlords, corrupt officials or deranged individuals. Violence begets violence. Zero-tolerance policies only lead to a growing underground economy and unaccountable violent behaviour, as we have learned from the inefficient but lethal “war on drugs”. In effect, zero-tolerance policies entrench and subsidise the exploitative employers as they do for the drug cartels. Since 99.9% of undocumented migrants are not criminals, one needs to tackle the phenomenon of undocumented migration with harm-reduction policies, reducing the pull factors such as underground exploitative labour markets (through actively repressing exploitative employment), taking into account all the parameters of each case (doing case management as social workers do for residents), focusing on the well-being of individuals (empowering them to defend their rights) and punishing the real culprits, i.e. all those who take advantage of the precariousness in which such migrants find themselves”

MCALLEN, Tex. — The Border Patrol agent, she remembers, was calm when he tied her to the tree and put silver duct tape over her mouth. He said very little.

She was a 14-year-old undocumented immigrant who had just crossed the Rio Grande, traveling with a teenage friend and the friend’s mother from Honduras. They had hoped to surrender to the Border Patrol and stay in the United States.

But instead of taking them in for processing, the agent, Esteban Manzanares, had driven them to an isolated, wooded area 16 miles outside the border city of McAllen, Tex. There he sexually assaulted the friend and viciously attacked her and her mother, twisting their necks, slashing their wrists and leaving them, finally, to bleed in the brush. Then he led the 14-year-old girl to the tree.

“I only asked him why he was doing this,” she recalled. “Why me? He would only say that he had been thinking about it for days. He had been thinking about this for days.”

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