“MCALLEN, Tex. — Teresa L. Todd pulled over one recent night on a dark West Texas highway to help three young Central American migrants who had flagged her down. Ms. Todd — an elected official, government lawyer and single mother in a desert border region near Big Bend National Park — said she went into “total mom mode” when she saw the three siblings, one of whom appeared to be very ill.
Struggling to communicate using her broken Spanish, Ms. Todd told the three young people to get out of the cold and into her car. She was phoning and texting friends for help when a sheriff’s deputy drove up, followed soon by the Border Patrol. “They asked me to step behind my car, and the supervisor came and started Mirandizing me,” said Ms. Todd, referring to being read her Miranda rights. “And then he says that I could be found guilty of transporting illegal aliens, and I’m, like, ‘What are you talking about?”
Ms. Todd spent 45 minutes in a holding cell that night. Federal agents obtained a search warrant to examine her phone, and she became the focus of an investigation that could lead to federal criminal charges.
As the Trump administration moves on multiple fronts to shut down illegal border crossings, it has also stepped up punitive measures targeting private citizens who provide compassionate help to migrants — “good Samaritan” aid that is often intended to save lives along a border that runs through hundreds of miles of remote terrain that can be brutally unforgiving.”
David Lindsay: Thank you Manny Fernandez for a disturbing piece. I had trouble organizinging my thoughts on this story, but did articulate, it is somehow unAmerican to stop someone from helping another in distress.
Here are the top comments, which do a magnificent job of cleaning up my thoughts. I particularly like the last one in this list by Amy.
So if I ever encounter someone having a medical emergency I can’t dare help them, unless I first check their papers?
Anytime saving lives is “against the law,” that law is immoral. Ms Todd saw young people in trouble and possibly at risk of death. She acted as any caring responsible person should regardless of the legal status of the young people. This is shameful.
Making simple acts of human decency and kindness a crime: so far will Trumpism go to define the immigrant as the OTHER and cast them out of society. If this continues from the side of the government, then I see no other option than to employ the methods of Martin Luther King Jr. That is, willingly, peacefully, but without fail, disobey any laws enacted against such simple acts of human decency and kindness, and pay the price. Such laws are, as King argued so gracefully, no laws at all. In New York harbor stands a Lady with a poem, including these words: Mother of Exiles. That is who we are. That is who we will always be. Trump cannot and will not change that. It is such acts of simple kindness recorded in this article that will defeat him.
Unfortunately, this did not shock me. Having just spent the last three months walking from Brownsville to El Paso, I met many people who face this type of Sophie’s choice every day. From residents in small cities like Los Ebanos and Roma to members of faith-based organizations in Eagle Pass and El Paso, people are regularly forced to make a conscious choice between helping migrants in need or adhering to the letter of the law. The fact that previous readers have referred to Todd’s compassionate actions as a lack of “common sense” and compare migrants to “bank robbers” is indicative of a larger problem not with immigration but with a lack of empathy and understanding. As someone who has been in her position, I applaud Todd’s actions and hope this article sets the stage for a larger conversation about the issue.
@ImagineMoments In my home country, in the EU, refusing to aid a person who is suffering a medical emergency is actually a crime. I always assumed it was the same here in the US. Live and learn…
@bored critic, your views seem to hinge on the fact that these folks had crossed the border illegally, and therefore broke a law. It might be good to remember that they had been separated from the larger group they were with, and were essentially lost. It’s reasonable to assume that they just didn’t happen to come across a border crossing station, and were understandably more concerned with getting their sister the medical attention she so badly needed. It also seems like you hold a very black and white view on morality. I think being human is to realize that while laws in our societies can seem black and white, humanity does not fall into those extreme camps. While illegally entering a country because you are on the run from violence in your home is against the law, it is fallacious to equivocate between that and robbing a bank. Maybe try to put yourself in their shoes. If I felt unsafe in my home, the people around me being murdered, I would hope beyond hope that the global community would be sympathetic to my suffering and want to help me. Remember that no one wants to be a refugee.