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Lawsuit: Mother Murdered in Mexico After Wrongful Deportation

PHOTO: The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement are being sued for allegedly violating the civil rights of a woman who was murdered after being deported to Mexico, as she said would happen. CREDIT: Georgia National Guard
PHOTO: The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement are being sued for allegedly violating the civil rights of a woman who was murdered after being deported to Mexico, as she said would happen. CREDIT: Georgia National Guard
June 6, 2013

MERCEDES, Texas - The murder of a young woman following her deportation to Mexico in 2009 has led to a civil rights lawsuit against the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Lead attorney Jennifer Harbury, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, said the victim, "Laura S.," was taken to the International Bridge just hours after she was picked up for a traffic violation, despite pleading with officials that her ex-boyfriend would kill her if she returned to Mexico.

"That's exactly what happened," Harbury said. "He found her, abducted her, strangled her and left her body in a burning car. If she had been allowed - as was her absolute right - to be brought before an immigration judge and present all of these issues, she would not have been deported. She did not have to die."

Before her death, Laura S. had obtained the protection of the local police and courts, but those who handled her deportation would not listen to her cries about her violent 'ex' and took a shortcut, Harbury explained.

"The result is that she was killed brutally. We hear these stories, and we're very, very concerned that this not continue - especially given the very deadly results during all the border violence," Harbury said.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the woman's family by Texas RioGrand Legal Aid and the South Texas Civil Rights Project. Both are members of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, Harbury said, to take care of the woman's three children, who are now growing up without their mother.

"The bigger goal, of course, is we hope that people in charge of training and supervising take much better care of people who are abruptly picked up and then tossed across the river with no serious concern for their rights or their safety," she said.

A moment of silence will be held today during a community gathering in Mercedes on behalf of Laura S. and others activists say were victims of U.S. immigration abuse. The event starts at noon at the Lupe Office, Casa Saldana, 1225 N FM 491.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX