Civil rights suit filed against U.S. officials: Young mother murdered in Mexico after wrongful deportation

7 Jun

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – June 5, 2013 – A civil rights lawsuit against agents of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been filed on behalf of three minor children. Their mother, “Laura S.” was brutally murdered in Mexico after she was wrongfully deported by the Defendants. The attorneys and concerned members of the community will discuss the case and the serious issues it raises at the June 6, 2013 press conference, and a moment of silence will be held in memory of Laura S. and all victims of U.S. immigration abuse.

Laura S. was twenty-two years old and the mother of three small children when she was stopped for a minor traffic violation and turned over to a Border Patrol agent in 2009. For many years she had been severely battered by her abusive boyfriend, “Sergio H.” and she had recently obtained the protection of the local police and courts of law. Enraged, Sergio had returned to Mexico, threatening to kill her.

According to the complaint, Laura S. begged ICE and/or CBP officials not to return her to Mexico. She explained that she would be killed by her violent ex-boyfriend, that she had protective orders from the courts, and that she had three small children at home. Although she was eligible for relief from the immigration courts, she was given no hearing. Instead, the agents forced her back into Mexico within hours. She continued to weep and plead all the way to the bridge.

Within days Sergio H. found Laura S. in Reynosa and attacked her, nearly biting off her ear. He then abducted and strangled her, leaving her body in a burning car.

“This tragedy represents a grave and growing problem for our community in the border area. Immigration and Border Patrol officers have long been reported to take improper ‘short cuts’ in processing locals. In the era of the drug war, this can have fatal results,” said TRLA lead counsel Jennifer Harbury.

“We hope that this case will prove a catalyst for needed change in the conduct of Border Patrol officers and compensation for the three children left motherless and traumatized by this incident,” said Joseph Martin, attorney for STCRP.

The lawsuit was filed by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) and the South Texas Civil Rights Project (STCRP).

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services. For more information, visitwww.trla.org.

For over 30 years the South Texas Civil Rights Project has provided free legal services to lowincome persons in the Rio Grande Valley. The mission of the South Texas Civil Rights Project is to promote racial, social and economic justice through education and litigation.

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