Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Deported, and Killed
NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Sarah Stillman, who wrote in The New Yorker about the database she and students from Columbia University created that documents people who were deported and then killed as a result.
ARI SHAPIRO: Many immigrants from El Salvador are also afraid that if they return to their home country, they could be killed. In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Sarah Stillman investigates when deportation is a death sentence. Stillman runs the Global Migration Project at Columbia University's journalism school. Over many months, she and a team of students created a record of people who had been deported to Mexico and Central America and then killed or harmed. Sarah Stillman, welcome to the program.
SARAH STILLMAN: Thanks so much for having me.
SHAPIRO: You begin this article with a story of a 23-year-old woman named Laura who lived in Texas, had a restraining order against her husband in Mexico and was detained in a routine traffic stop. What happened to her?
STILLMAN: So Laura had actually been living in the U.S. for most of her adult life. She had U.S. citizen children. She was living in Texas. And one night, she was driving home from work when she was just pulled over for allegedly driving between two lanes. And the cop, when he stopped her, found out that she was undocumented. And he made the, at the time, unconventional decision to call Border Patrol to the scene.
And she pled for her life saying, I've got this protective order. I've been getting death threats from my ex-spouse who's back in Mexico who has joined a drug cartel. He really will kill me if I'm sent back. Nonetheless, that very same night, she was coerced into signing immediate removal paperwork and was marched across the bridge.
SHAPIRO: She said something really chilling to the border agent who detained her.
STILLMAN: Yes. Her last words actually to the Border Patrol agent who was sending her back across the bridge were, you know,
"when I'm found dead, it will be on your conscience. "
And indeed, that's exactly what transpired. Her body was found in a vehicle incinerated after she had been strangled...
and here is the article written in The New Yorker about this research...
And I will say it again:
Crossing an international border
to seek safety, food or relief from oppression
SHOULD NOT BE A CRIME.
It is IN NO WAY CRIMINAL.
I repeat and stress:
IT IS IMMORAL TO TREAT PEOPLE SEEKING REFUGE FROM VIOLENCE OR STARVATION AS IF THEY WERE CRIMINALS.
Not having the "right" documentation is, at worst, a misdemeanor and it should NOT be that and should not be treated like a crime.
We need to change our laws and we need to demand that we stop going beyond our laws, as ICE does now and has for too many years (including under the Obama administration). Of course, it is only getting worse under the current administration.