The Corner

Sole Asylum

As you can imagine, I’m in Derb’s camp rather than Jay’s on the question of granting asylum to the Mexican woman who took the police chief job in a drug kingpin’s territory. But it’s actually a much easier call than the debate below suggests — you’re not supposed to get asylum if there’s somewhere else in your own country where you could go to escape the “persecution.” Is it really plausible that the cartels would hunt her down in, say, Mexico City 1,000 miles away, or Guadalajara or Villahermosa or Aguascalientes or any of a hundred other places she could have quietly slipped off to and no one would notice?

And let’s not get too teary-eyed about her bravery. From a story today:

As police chief of a small Mexican town caught up the country’s drug wars, Marisol Valles García hoped that turning a blind eye on the criminals would keep her safe. But just five months after taking up the post she is in hiding in the US, where she has applied for asylum. . . .

Her security plan focused on sending her eight unarmed female agents on door-to-door visits in an effort to persuade families to venture out of their houses again for community sports and cultural events. She also repeatedly insisted that the municipal police would be ignoring the organised criminals roaming the area.

How much this strategy of non-confrontation helped is not clear, but Praxedis had been notably calm in the last few months, unlike other towns in the area.

Then, at some point overnight between 2 and 3 March Valles and her immediate family disappeared, leaving a locked house with the lights still on. . . .

“She lost her job because she abandoned it,” Andrés Morales, a municipal spokesman, said. “Everything remains calm here and the rest of the police are working as normal.”

I can’t say I would have done any different, but this is hardly a case of standing up to the drug cartels. And note this:

Later that day, Valles called De la Rosa. “She said she was in a city far from the border and that we shouldn’t worry any more,” he said. “She asked me to tone things down.”

Well, “far from the border” is a good place to be if you’re in the vicinity of Juarez, the world’s most violent and dangerous city. But why does “far from the border” always have to mean “far north of the border”? In fact, here’s a family, from the same piece, who fled Juarez but stayed in their own country:

Last week, some 32 members of the a family of prominent human rights activist abandoned their homes in Guadalupe, also in the Juárez valley. In recent months a long family tradition of activism on a range of human rights issues had boiled down to the demand for justice in the cases of six members of the family who were murdered in several attacks over the last two years. Most of the family is now under police protection in Mexico City.

Who’s braver and more civic-minded: someone who flees killers by relocating within his own homeland or someone who abandons that homeland altogether?

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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