Patterico's Pontifications

5/10/2019

County Attorney Stops To Help Illegal Immigrants Lost In Desert, Subsequently Detained By Authorities

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:14 pm



[guest post by Dana]

For Americans, especially those who reside in states that border Mexico, the issue of illegal immigration continues to be a contentious one. As record numbers of Central Americans make their way to the U.S., border arrests have increased and the Trump administration has begun implementing a more thorough screening of asylum seekers. The administration is also reportedly taking a stronger stance against private citizens who help illegals coming through the difficult terrain of the desert’s migration corridors and provide them with food and water, or with temporary shelter. With that, there is an interesting story about a West Texas county attorney being detained by authorities for being a good Samaritan after helping three young illegal immigrants lost in the middle of nowhere:

The three Salvadoran migrants were a family — Carlos, 22, his brother, Francisco, 20, and their sister, Esmeralda, 18. They had fled their home country years ago and were living with an aunt in Guatemala. Worsening gang violence forced them to leave — two of Carlos’s friends were murdered, and a gang leader wanted Esmeralda to be his girlfriend, according to court documents. The trio headed for the United States and crossed the border in a remote stretch of desert with a group of migrants and smugglers. But Esmeralda became sick and had trouble keeping up.

The others in the group pushed ahead, but her brothers stayed by her side. The three of them became lost as they hiked north, and they ran out of food and water, according to statements they provided to the federal public defender’s office. Esmeralda’s condition had worsened by the time they flagged down Ms. Todd.

She had the siblings get in her car and started to contact friends — one who works for a refugee services nonprofit and another who is a lawyer for the Border Patrol.

Moments later, a sheriff’s deputy from neighboring Presidio County pulled up behind her, lights flashing. The deputy and Ms. Todd know one another, but he was immediately suspicious, she said, asking whether she thought the migrants’ backpacks smelled like dope. The deputy alerted Border Patrol, whose agents read Ms. Todd her rights.

Ms. Todd, who routinely puts misdemeanor lawbreakers behind bars as a county attorney, was put in a holding cell at a nearby Border Patrol station. Her purse and other personal items were confiscated.

“I walk in and a guy says, ‘Are you the driver?’ I said, ‘No, I’m the lady who stopped to help these kids,’” Ms. Todd said. “They seemed to think there was something very nefarious going on, when I literally got flagged down on the side of the road and tried to be a good Samaritan.”

She was held in a large holding cell for about 45 minutes, and then released and driven back to her car, which was still on the side of the highway. She had been detained for a total of about three hours.

Days later, back at work at Marfa City Hall, she was visited at her office by an agent with federal Homeland Security Investigations and a Texas Ranger. The federal agent handed her a search warrant for her phone, and she surrendered it. One of the friends she had texted that night told Ms. Todd that agents had also questioned her and examined her phone.

The three migrants Ms. Todd had helped are now in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in El Paso and could face deportation. “All three remain in ICE custody pending disposition of their immigration cases,” an ICE spokeswoman said in a statement.

Ms. Todd said that she did not understand why she was arrested and detained:

“I honestly don’t feel like I ever did anything wrong: I stopped to help some kids,” said Ms. Todd, 53, who serves as both the city attorney of Marfa, Tex., and the county attorney of Jeff Davis County, an elected position. “It’s been pretty transformative for me, to be perfectly honest. To have devoted my life to public service, and then to be Mirandized, detained and investigated as if I’m a human smuggler. The whole thing was really, really, very surreal. It was like a ‘Twilight Zone.’”

Ms. Todd has not been charged with a crime at this point in time.

As for the ill sister:

According to court records, [Esmeralda] was taken by Border Patrol agents to Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine, Tex., and was treated for four days for starvation, dehydration, infected wounds from cactus spines and rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure.

The Good Samaritan Act of Texas states:

(a) A person who in good faith administers emergency care is not liable in civil damages for an act performed during the emergency unless the act is wilfully or wantonly negligent[.]

The exceptions appear to be if the supposed Good Samaritan has been wantonly negligent, if there is an expectation of remuneration, or if the Good Samaritan caused the initial harm in the first place that lead to the need for help.

While the Presidio County sheriff, (whose office received the 911 call about a young man on the road needing assistance) told reporters that “Knowingly transporting undocumented individuals is a felony federal offense,” Ms. Todd is committed to working with congressional representatives to exempt good Samaritans from federal prosecution. Jeff Davis County Sheriff Williams Kitts, however, focused on the more immediate picture:

“Harboring is a big jump for them to make in my book,” Sheriff Kitts said of the threatened criminal charges against Ms. Todd. “There’s a human component to this. We’ll let Congress and the politicians fight it out, but if somebody’s hungry or thirsty or needs some help, we’re going to help them.”

And I’ll leave you with two opposing comments from readers at the linked article:

#1 –

Ok I get that she stopped to help them. But I also believe she knew who and what they were. And they are not migrants when they cross the border illegally. They were not looking for asylum. Asylum seekers stop at a legal border crossing and request asylum. They illegally crossed the border into the country. That makes them no different from someone who just robbed a bank or convenience store or broke out of prison and was on the run. She was then phoning family and friends for help. She didnt call for an ambulance. She didnt call police. She knew who they were and what they were doing. And she was not calling authorities. So she was aiding and abetting. I am thankful that such compassion still exists in places in American society and I dont doubt that she was trying to help them and that’s great. But what was her plan if the deputy and border patrol hadn’t shown up? She was clearly not calling law enforcement so was her plan to provide them food and water, maybe shelter and a ride to someplace else where they could safely continue elsewhere into the country? It certainly appears that could have been her intent. And if she did exactly that for an escaped prisoner or someone who just robbed the bank, what would you consider her then and how would you demand her be treated?

#2 –

[Y]our 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.

It’s an interesting story because at the end of the day, and in spite of her obvious efforts to help the three individuals, Ms. Todd, chief legal officer of Jeff Davis County, is the law.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

113 Responses to “County Attorney Stops To Help Illegal Immigrants Lost In Desert, Subsequently Detained By Authorities”

  1. It was absolutely foolish for a single woman to have invited three strangers into her car in the middle of nowhere at night, especially when two of them were males. Why not call 911, or ask for immediate assistance from her Border Patrol lawyer friend or the refugee non-profit she called? The report said that “moments later” (after she pulled away with the three individuals in her car) she was flagged down by a Presidio County officer. Although as reported, he didn’t seem to have a sense of urgency regarding the health situation of the girl.

    Dana (779465)

  2. the struggle grows more bitter. remember the two dutch christen sisters who were sent to ravens brook concentration camp for helping jews. they broke the nazi law for helping jews.

    lany (3dd240)

  3. I would help too, no matter who they were. But I would have chosen a different option than did Ms. Todd. A less risky one.

    Dana (779465)

  4. I have been in that situation before. I gave food and water and said I would call 911 to get them help. They declined and skedaddled. I called anyway.

    I don’t think you get to break the law, and when you get into a life threatening situation, that you are somehow exempt from the consequences of your decisions.

    Guess what? For Christians, we are called to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, and to visit those in prison. Kind of reinforces the law of consequences, yes?

    felipe (023cc9)

  5. Dana (779465) — 5/10/2019 @ 1:21 pm

    Exactly right, Dana.

    felipe (023cc9)

  6. lany (3dd240) — 5/10/2019 @ 1:30 pm

    And the nazis got what they deserved, yes?

    felipe (023cc9)

  7. First, there is a duty to render first aid, or provide something as basic as water, to a person who clearly needs them. There is no duty to put your life at risk to do this. If more than that is required, calling 911 is the best option.

    Helping suspected illegals evade the INS should not be conflated with “first aid.”

    I disagree that crossing the border illegally is the same as robbing a bank; for one thing the penalties are quite different. But it is illegal and that makes accepting even a truthful refugee claim difficult. I don’t know how much trouble the US goes to in informing potential asylum seekers of the necessity of legal entry, so I can’t judge that, but clearly they were part of a group intending to cross illegally.

    Thankfully, the law requires proof that the Samaritan was trying to help them avoid the INS. The inferences are fine, but inferences are not proof.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  8. If the deputy had come upon them first and simply arrested them and tossed them in a cell without water or medical help until the INS arrived, would he be more righteous?

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  9. @6 I tremble for my country when I remember jod is just. Thomas jefferson.

    lany (3dd240)

  10. Kevin M @ 8,

    No, I don’t think he would have been. It sounds as if the sister were in dire need of help. Take them but make sure water, food and essential medical help is provided.

    Dana (7ff428)

  11. It was absolutely foolish for a single woman to have invited three strangers into her car in the middle of nowhere at night, especially when two of them were males.

    Although the article doesn’t say anything about it, she might well have been armed.

    Dave (1bb933)

  12. Give water. Call 911. Arrest and deport.

    The media story gives a sympathetic slant to the illegal aliens plight with a total disregard of the law.

    NJRob (ad0917)

  13. Did she mention where she was taking the three? To the nearest hospital, I take it.

    Calling the border patrol lawyer is also kind of odd. If the lawyer is employed by border patrol does he then have an obligation to report that there are three illegal border crossings taking place? I think if I were Ms. Todd I would have covered my bases by also calling border patrol and reporting the three at the same time as I was rendering aid to them. Otherwise she risks being seen as aiding and abetting illegal immigrants.

    But then again, maybe her plan was to get Esmerelda to the hospital with her brothers and then call border patrol from there. Unless there is something about Ms. Todd that we don’t know, I would be inclined to give her a pass.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  14. “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.”

    I’ll put myself in their shoes. I’ll leave a violent environment in Guatemala, pass right through non-violent regions of Mexico where they speak my language and share a culture, enter the rich and prosperous U.S. illegally, and say it’s because I’m escaping violence — because there are no lack of dupes who will buy that, and it’s key to me staying in the country anyway.

    And, the story is “according to court documents” so it’s totally legit. Gumshoe reporters abandon their genetic skepticism when they desperately want to believe the story is true. NYT, go figure.

    Munroe (a068dd)

  15. Calling the border patrol lawyer is also kind of odd.

    Perhaps she was wondering if she could take them to a hospital before calling them in. If he said yes, it would help her defense.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  16. Apparently it’s not as ‘contentious’ when you aren’t on the border proper, as a foam-mouthed ranter shouted out a simple-minded solution to our Captain’s ears at a Florida panhandle rally the other day. Which he promptly joked about, mugging for the crowd and the cameras.

    “You really are a funny guy!” – Henry Hill [Ray Liotta] ‘Goodfellas’ 1990

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  17. I don’t know, JVW:

    According to Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez, one of his deputies was responding to a call of a person walking along the road near Marfa.

    While the deputy did not find the person, he did spot a car nearby that had stopped, but was starting to drive away. The deputy stopped the vehicle and identified the driver as Jeff Davis County Attorney Teresa Todd.

    Sheriff Dominguez says that there were three migrants from Guatemala in the car with Todd who were all in the country illegally.

    According to Sheriff Dominguez, Todd told the deputy that she had made phone calls to try and give the migrants asylum.

    The case was then reported to the U.S. Border Patrol who responded to the scene.

    Dana (779465)

  18. The Border Patrol lawyer is described in the article as a friend. I would presume from that term she called him for advice on what to do. Him being Border Patrol and all.

    Kishnevi (37d538)

  19. Hopefully the friend told her to turn them over to the authorities.

    DRJ (15874d)

  20. I’m torn.

    On the one hand, this wasn’t West Texas 1866, it’s West Texas 2019. She could have dialed 911 and had help there for them in five minutes if her reasons were strictly humanitarian. I’m sure she was trying to shelter them from La Migra.

    On the other hand, I probably would not have snitched them out to 911 either, unless it was necessary to save their lives, or if I suspected they were serious criminals who might hurt other, innocent, people.

    nk (dbc370)

  21. There were three choices:

    1. Call and report but don’t stop.
    2. Stop and see if they need help and call or take them to emergency or law enforcement, depending on their response.
    3. Stop, pick them up, and help them get asylum.

    I am not sure but I think 3. is harboring. It is not a citizen’s role to help migrants get asylum. It is certainly not a Good Samaritan’s role.

    DRJ (15874d)

  22. And they are from El Salvador via Guatemala. They need to be screened for MS-13 affiliations.

    DRJ (15874d)

  23. Why are we even debating this? This woman isn’t an unsophisticated person. She knew these people were illegal aliens and she wanted to help them break into the USA. As your quote states: “Why didn’t she call for an ambulance? Why didn’t she call the police?” They would’ve given them medical care – if needed.

    We need to be clear. The liberals love immigration – ANY kind of immigration – people they know it will give them votes and power. Its given them POWER in California. Almost unlimited power. And eventually, if things keep going on as it has, will give them complete control of the USA. Do you like the Government in California now? Because that’s they way the whole country will be once we get enough “Yellow Dog Democrats” via immigration.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  24. If she was calling refugee services and a border patrol lawyer, it sounds like she was trying to do the best she could to help them through legal channels. Why else would you call those two types of experts? Not having been involved in the situation, so not having needed to see the human being rather than the criminal, obviously the answer is call the police and have them hauled away, because it’s easy to dehumanize someone you’ve never seen who you simply see as a law breaker. However, she was dealing with a very sick girl and her brothers who she saw as “kids” and had some connections to solve their problem in a different but still legal way that did not involve throwing a sick, feverish 18 year old in the clink. Obviously, since she had now met these people and heard their story, she had sympathy for them and so she tried to help.

    Personally, I want to know what beef the Presidio county Sheriff has with her. He seems to have been a bit more, um, conscientious, than one might expect, given the Jeff Davis county sheriff’s comment.

    Nic (896fdf)

  25. And I don’t think the “Never trumpers” or “RINOS” really care. They didn’t care when California was lost, they don’t care about immigration or border security and as long as the Chamber of Commerce supports it, they’ll support it. Bill Kristol once said he didn’t understand all the fuss over illegal immigration. He didn’t know anyone who’d been hurt by it.

    Strange words, but then he tried to elect Hillary in 2016.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  26. You see 3 people breaking into the country and your first impulse is to call a lawyer. Wow.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  27. This lady has all the qualifications to be a judge in Massachusetts.

    Munroe (c80181)

  28. Personally, I want to know what beef the Presidio county Sheriff has with her.

    Don’t even go there. What beef does the Chicago Police Department have with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx? And we’re not even the home of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

    But I have a daughter only a year younger than the Salvadoran girl in the story, so I agree with you, otherwise.

    nk (dbc370)

  29. I am not sure but I think 3. is harboring. It is not a citizen’s role to help migrants get asylum. It is certainly not a Good Samaritan’s role.

    It depends on what you mean about “help get asylum.”

    If she meant “get then to a place they can file for asylum”, the government DOES allow people to seek asylum. By itself these folks stated a fair claim, if true, and if they had made that claim at a border crossing they would get a hearing. I think that having crossed illegally their application would be rejected but IANAL so I would not presume that.

    If you mean “sneak them to the nearest sanctuary city” then that’s harboring. I think the same charge could be made against the entire establishment of said sanctuary, but again IANAL.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  30. @29 It’s personal curiosity, unrelated to the discussion. I bet there’s a story there.

    Nic (896fdf)

  31. Yes. Real life Texas politics is more entertaining than a Larry McMurtry novel.

    nk (dbc370)

  32. @23 refugees are also coming from honduras as well as el salvador and guatamala. they are not coming from nicuragua as they were able to fight off reagan’s c.i.a. narco drug cartels.

    lany (f7fa0b)

  33. Law enforcement goes in with a blank slate. They don’t know who she is, and once they do, it has to be confirmed, and who knows? maybe she is up to something, maybe not. So they detained her and sorted it out. Has anyone ever been detained, cuffed, mirandized because their car and physical description matched that of a recent felon?
    It sucks, its scary and if you are lucky, the cops apologize for the inconvenience. Its a part of life where bad people do bad things. Its the bad peoples fault.

    steveg (e7a56b)

  34. I’m going to sockpuppet for reasons.

    A few months before Teresa was arrested, transported to jail, released from jail, and not charged with any crimes, nor any arrest affidavit produced, Teresa took a lot of power and money away from Sherif Dominguez (he’s been the Man here for over 20 years) by ending the city of Marfa’s deal with the county to provide law enforcement services. The city of Marfa has a couple of beautiful (and purple) brand new city police cars. Teresa argued that the county law enforcement had not done a very good job on child related issues, and did not engage in the community. Also, the city of Marfa is economically booming, and drastically more lefty than the surrounding area, causing political friction.

    Officially it was the Marfa city council taking these actions, but Teresa, the county attorney for the neighboring county, was the heavy lifter of this shake up. And Sheriff Dominguez was understandably defensive about the situation. I may not be articulating this well, but suffice to say there’s been about a year’s worth of drama between these folks.

    They easily could have released Teresa on the scene and investigated any potential charges. She’s the neighboring county’s attorney and they interact with her every day. Turns out they didn’t charge her with a thing. They booked her into jail and then released her from jail. Mucho esfuerzo extra.

    The county cops here are effing horrible. It’s slow enough out here that it’s easy to know who is who based on their car, and while these people are probably too lazy to have been following her around, they surely noticed when her car stopped on the highway.

    It takes a long time to get an ambulance out there. The people Teresa picked up were actually in a bad way. When I learned of this situation, the words “underground railroad” were used to describe Teresa’s conduct, and in a positive way. It’s a semi-open secret here that wealthier and more liberal folks will help people who crossed the border illegally.

    That conduct encourages illegal immigration, encourages people to put their kids in dangerous situations, and helps criminals like MS-13. The phone was all they really needed to show that while she was doing her good samaritan thing that many of us would do, she was also trying to help these folks succeed at illegal immigration.

    In other words, both sides stink here a little, and both sides feel they were doing a good thing. Teresa got to taste the ‘You can beat the rap but you can’t beat the ride’ aspect of law enforcement. She also was, in my opinion, part of the problem by not referring illegal immigrants to the authorities as she helped them survive. In a way, Teresa and Danny did the same thing: Teresa doesn’t look the other way for many misdemeanants, but she did for these guys. When law enforcement discretion is politically motivated, that’s a double-edged sword.

    Don’t cry to much for her, as she is smart and will find a way to leverage this. Folks in Marfa love her now. I might add, Marfa is a great place to visit, and far west Texas is real pretty.

    el bollo de miel (c18d6f)

  35. Kevin,

    I don’t think the immigration laws allow citizens to act as immigration enforcement and bypass the usual asylum procedures. If they did, the militia guys wouldn’t be in hot water, would they?

    DRJ (15874d)

  36. Did I say that? “Get them to a place” does not necessarily mean driving them there. I had more in mind taking the girl to a hospital, then calling authorities who would complete the process.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  37. But “el bollo” suggests 1) she probably would have tried to get them to a sanctuary, and 2) the local sheriff has it in for her and this was a counting coup to be used at the next election.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  38. But she didn’t call for help and the deputy said she told him she was trying to get them asylum. Maybe he lied about that or maybe she is now.

    DRJ (15874d)

  39. A separate question entirely:

    Assume that the asylum request is truthful, AND assume that these folks had followed the approved process of presenting themselves at a border checkpoint. If you were an immigration judge, would you grant them asylum?

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  40. Muchas gracias, honey bun. Like I said, entertaining.

    nk (dbc370)

  41. Honey Bun is fun, as is Marfa.

    DRJ (15874d)

  42. I don’t know how much proof immigration law requires. An unsupported claim may be enough or it may require some credible proof they are who they claim and their stories are true.

    DRJ (15874d)

  43. And again “get them asylum” is different from “get them sanctuary.” She IS an officer of the court and holds civil office in the county at issue, so she is not “just a citizen” any more than the sheriff deputy is. Whether this gives her any special ability (or conversely causes her special grief if furthering illegal entry) is something for the lawyers.

    I am not surprised that there is bad blood between her and the folks that arrested her, and I suspect there is more than one lie here.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  44. FWIW, if there are tensions in this region, they could be political. The Sheriffs in the region are more conservative than the attorneys and some of the residents. Any thoughts, Honey Bun?

    DRJ (15874d)

  45. I would hope that immigration judges develop an understanding of what some Central American communities are like after hearing enough cases. What I don’t know is if danger caused by economic disadvantage leads to an acceptable claim.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  46. She has a duty as a county official and an officer of the court to respect and obey all laws, but that does not give her authority to enforce federal laws.

    DRJ (15874d)

  47. Economic problems are not grounds for asylum claims. If they were, there would be almost no limit on who could come.

    DRJ (15874d)

  48. And again “get them asylum” is different from “get them sanctuary.”

    I am not sure there is a distinction. You assume she was delivering them to authorities for asylum processing but she didn’t. She turned them over after being detained.

    DRJ (15874d)

  49. The problem with broken windows is was Tim Ballard has discovered with the caravans when the law is in abeyyance many terrible things happen

    Narciso (992c3f)

  50. Narciso, you might want to start braking on your sentiments in your post #50 or you could end up sounding like the Alabama state rep of “kill them now or kill them later” infamy.

    urbanleftbehind (847a06)

  51. “The Sheriffs in the region are more conservative”

    True but let’s not lump them together. Jeff Davis’s Sheriff is conspicuously on Teresa’s side.

    Presidio’s law enforcement has been caught crooked a few times now. The history is incredible going back to the wild wild west Porvenir massacre, and it’s always taken a sort of nihilist SOB to garner any staying power.

    It’s always fear of the bandits on the land. Pancho Villa, human traffickers, it’s not the same story but it is the same sort of PR strategy (which always has a lot of truth to it).

    https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Corrupt-Texas-sheriff-soon-to-be-released-from-12810361.php (Sheriff Dominguez is literally the right hand man on picture 3 of the story about how the Sheriff Thompson had been using the office to facilitate tens of millions of dollars and felonies for the Columbian drug cartel).

    Most of the officials seem to be on the take: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtx/pr/former-presidio-county-officials-sentenced-federal-prison-bribery-related-charge

    And the best way to deal with internal corruption is to point to the other political faction, so maybe that’s part of the issue. What is the first word out of the mouth of someone who likes Trump? It’s “Hillary.” What’s the first word out of the mouth of someone who likes Biden? “Trump.”

    But that’s boring. There are some really interesting local political issues here. This is a mix of gorgeous resorts (it’s where Justice Scalia died) and brutally hard oil work. UT Austin is so powerful here they keep the sky darker than anywhere else in the continental US, kinda sorta as a matter of law.

    Teresa blew open a long grumbled about problem: https://www.cbs7.com/content/news/City-attorney-gaps-in-child-sexual-assault-cases-led-to-issues-with-law-enforcement-contract-in-Marfa-421951183.html You don’t accuse cops of not caring about sexually assaulted children because you’re trying to maintain a good relationship with them.

    After years of complaining in somewhat discrete forums, Teresa started making headlines, and the county was more or less fired. Teresa personally made the push. If I recall, the county only has four deputies, so imagine how huge an impact this is to lose most of their work.

    A very short time after, Teresa stepped out of line, just a mile inside Presidio county, and they were on her instantly. They didn’t set her up. They didn’t frame her. But they sure noticed quick, and were unsympathetic and displayed zero discretion.

    Given how local democrats fancifully wax about how helping illegals is like the underground railroad, here is a scenario: Deputies and Sheriff get humiliated in their community, lose hundreds of thousands of their budget, and are replaced in the liberal enclave, but they either know or have a strong hunch that the person who called them out is part of some kind of criminal conspiracy… if only they could get some kind of proof (like her iPhone). But it turns out the iPhone didn’t help too much because Teresa isn’t stupid or the conspiracy isn’t as big a deal as they thought. But how many times do these asylum seekers announce which public official or lawyer got them started with this paperwork? Are the geniuses working for the county really that brilliant at surveying their enormous county that they just happened to catch the chick they were mad at, or was this something they were looking for because everyone knows someone is helping these people at some point?

    Politically, partial petardeo. The New York Times isn’t writing about this because it helps the GOP. But a lot of folks have to secure their families and homes against their fears of human traffickers or worse, and see Teresa as law enforcement who talked the talk. I think the ‘scandal’ serves both sides. I think a lot of scandals wind up like that.

    el bollo de miel (c18d6f)

  52. @35 There was a good story! Thanks for telling it!

    @40 It may depend on the judge. If the story were true, and I were the judge I would, because the girl would be in direct danger of what is essentially sex slavery and the guys in danger of death if they tried to protect their sister. However, I am not a judge and I get the feeling that current circumstance don’t leave a lot of room for discretionary judgements.

    @50 Probably the lack of documentation is the least of the problems in that situation.

    Nic (896fdf)

  53. “Alec” is Maya Elizabeth, a girl who identifies as a boy, but you wouldn’t know it from The Daily Mail story.

    nk (dbc370)

  54. I am not sure there is a distinction

    “Asylum” is a legal status, meaning that the government has determined that someone can stay due to persecution or other severe danger that they fled from.

    “Sanctuary” is hiding out from la migra among friends.

    I see a distinction there.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  55. There isnt even a pretense to law nowadays:

    How? While I’m (again) annoyed we have to find stuff out from a British paper, the guy was deported, jailed, and deported again. Short of branding him or cutting off an ear, I’m not sure what you wanted them to do.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  56. “Alec” is Maya Elizabeth, a girl who identifies as a boy, but you wouldn’t know it from The Daily Mail story.

    Transgender McKinney, who was born a girl called Mya, had turned 16 on April 14 and wrote on twitter on April 26: ‘My mom talking to me about how she hates the new alec.

    From the linked story.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  57. Given how local democrats fancifully wax about how helping illegals is like the underground railroad, here is a scenario: Deputies and Sheriff get humiliated in their community, lose hundreds of thousands of their budget, and are replaced in the liberal enclave, but they either know or have a strong hunch that the person who called them out is part of some kind of criminal conspiracy… if only they could get some kind of proof (like her iPhone). But it turns out the iPhone didn’t help too much because Teresa isn’t stupid or the conspiracy isn’t as big a deal as they thought. But how many times do these asylum seekers announce which public official or lawyer got them started with this paperwork? Are the geniuses working for the county really that brilliant at surveying their enormous county that they just happened to catch the chick they were mad at, or was this something they were looking for because everyone knows someone is helping these people at some point?

    Politically, partial petardeo. The New York Times isn’t writing about this because it helps the GOP. But a lot of folks have to secure their families and homes against their fears of human traffickers or worse, and see Teresa as law enforcement who talked the talk. I think the ‘scandal’ serves both sides. I think a lot of scandals wind up like that.
    el bollo de miel (c18d6f) — 5/10/2019 @ 9:29 pm

    The interesting thing is Jeff Davis County is more libertarian/conservative than either Presidio County to the south or Reeves County (where all the oil is) to the north — the Republic of Texas standoff involving the secessionists was there back in 1997. So Todd’s action fits the profile of your average Marfa resident more than it would the folks 20 miles to the north in Fort Davis, where not just the Beto but the Ted Cruz signs were out in force this past election cycle.

    But the residents in neither northern Presidio nor Jeff Davis county want things to change from the way they are today, because that’s why a lot people came to the area in the first place. (The political dynamic in the Marfa-Presidio-Alpine area is always interesting because of that — even before the current situation, the area could produce someone like Rick McLaren, claiming from the libertarian right that the government had no control over his land, and an Amanda Marcotte, who rails online from the far left, demanding government control over everything.)

    John (6393a1)

  58. They got that guy who coined the phrase out of the succession queue on penny-ante home state mess, Narciso.

    urbanleftbehind (bccba5)

  59. Yes spiro got some milk payoffs and Lyndon got filthy rich without consequences dont forget ‘no controlling legal authority’

    Narciso (62a107)

  60. I grew up in Miami, and I recall all the slithy toves jeb hung around with, one associate skipped all the way to Spain to avoid prosecution

    Narciso (62a107)

  61. Honey Bun or John,

    Honey Bun mentioned UT’s influence. I assume that is because of the Observatory and its land. Are they liberal like the UT Austin folks? Any connection to Ms. Todd?

    DRJ (15874d)

  62. FWIW I had the Netflix-induced naivete to start watching the Ken Burns doc series on the Vietnam War, my daughter started watching it with the end result being her hating hippies (she does play the White Sox fan role of hating hipsters already) and me having strange new respect for Nixon, but especially Agnew.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  63. I see a distinction there.

    Kevin M (21ca15) — 5/11/2019 @ 12:17 am

    If you are wondering if Ms. Todd planned to take these migrants to a secret sanctuary vs taking them to authorities for legal asylum, I agree they are very different. I guess either is possible but legal is likely.

    But my impression regarding your comments is that you think she planned to obey the law but her actions were clumsy or not thought out. In that case, I think the words are interchangeable.

    Can you clarify for me what you think?

    DRJ (15874d)

  64. Well it’s a good start, I saw the first episode I noted he hadn’t learned anything since 1975. And begged off.

    Narciso (62a107)

  65. Also, is there any problem being City Attorney of Marfa (in Presidio County) and County Attorney in a different county, Jeff Davis? I know the travel isn’t a problem — West Texans will drive two hours just for dinner — but there may be divided interests or loyalties there.

    DRJ (15874d)

  66. I always fall back on the great philosopher, Paul Harvey saying, “And now the rest of the story…”

    I don’t have his insight or any direct knowledge here, only maybe some common sense.

    First, Ms. Todd is an officer of the court sworn to uphold the law regardless of her relationships with other counties or officers. She can’t claim ignorance of the law because she is the law. Her first call should have been to 911. It was not. Everything after that was problematic legally for her. The police and ICE officials acted appropriately. She probably got leeway by not being arrested but they wanted to send her a message by investigating it aggressively.

    Second, I would question why she was on the road (…the rest of the story?). She may have been coming home from her therapists office or she may have been part of an effort to do exactly what she did, find and aid immigrants in the dessert. I commend her empathy, but as an attorney her best talents would be helping them after lawful apprehension and not aiding in their illegal activities no matter how noble her cause.

    Third, it sounds like some other responsible citizen did the responsible thing and called 911 to report somebody on the road trying to flag down cars. Ms. Todd did the irresponsible thing by taking strangers into her car while alone on a desolate stretch of highway at night. Sick people are often desperate. The officer may very well have saved her life.

    Lastly, these three may have left a terrible situation in their hometown and country, but as mentioned above, they had many opportunities to find safe haven before almost dying in the South Texas dessert. If their asylum claim was valid, they could have filed from the safety of their aunt’s home in Guatemala or Mexico. Equally likely, they were coached by the coyotes, who abandoned them to die when the sister fell ill, to use these kinds of statements to make a valid claim. There are groups on the Mexican border that hand out pamphlets to that effect.

    DanJ1 (bdcadf)

  67. Liberal Lawyers don’t believe in the “Rule of law” – if they did, they’d be against illegal immigration and people breaking into the country illegally. And they’d be in favor of enforcing the drug laws.

    That’s why every time they chant about “The rule of law” I laugh. You can’t fool all the people all of the time.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  68. Calling 911 would be (and is) the default go-to choice of the vast majority of concerned citizens who come upon individuals in peril, needing help, or oddly out of place on the side of the road after dark in the middle of nowhere (and you are a woman traveling alone).

    Dana (779465)

  69. As Arizona CJ noted at The Jury, the trio were picked up North of Marfa, apparently headed to Fort Davis on HWY 17. Ms. Todd has jobs in both cities so it isn’t surprising she would be on that road.

    HWY 67 connects Ojinaga, Mexico to Marfa, Texas. It is 62 miles. Ojinaga looks like the closest place to Marfa on the Mexican border, so wherever the migrants crossed, they had to go 62 miles + however many miles North of Marfa they traveled. Conservatively, they were 70 miles North of the border, but they couldn’t travel in the open so they actually walked more than that. Thsee lands are desolate, tough to travel in, and not good weather when this happened. It is near Big Bend and healthy, well-supplied hikers die there every year.

    It is also possible they came across in a vehicle and were dumped/released close to Marfa, but then got lost or their contact did not meet them.

    What do you think Honey Bun? Do my estimates and scenarios sound right to you?

    DRJ (15874d)

  70. Calling 911 would be (and is) the default go-to choice of the vast majority of concerned citizens who come upon individuals in peril

    The vast majority live in cities. Having moved from L.A. to New Mexico, I do see some issues with expecting rapid response away from the city.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  71. She was on the road between Marfa (Presidio County) and Fort Davis (Jeff Davis County). They are 20 miles apart, but the towns are in different counties so both have Sheriff’s departments. I think it is true they aren’t big departments but in towns/counties like this, no one is ever off-duty. If they need to get a deputy out of bed, they do.

    DRJ (15874d)

  72. If she wanted rapid medical response, my suggestion is don’t call other lawyers. Call 911. The Marfa 911 office is in the City Hall building in Marfa, which may well be the same building in which she has offices as City Attorney. She probably knows all the dispatchers.

    DRJ (15874d)

  73. Narciso, you are treating this as your personal off-topic link thread. My suggestion is that you try to actually comment on the topic every 4-5 links.

    DRJ (15874d)

  74. We all go off-topic now and then but you do this a lot. You need to start a blog.

    DRJ (15874d)

  75. Narciso is just well versed in bringing up extreme case scenarios.

    urbanleftbehind (bccba5)

  76. it’s the same pattern, whether here or across the pond, the citizen is second class, as to the particulars they may have been overzealous, but seeing what tim ballard has relayed they have a right to be, churches and towns are collapsing under this wave of migration,

    narciso (d1f714)

  77. I figured you would say that, but why not actually say it and then provide links?

    Writing coherent opinions is hard work. Learn from Patterico. Respect us enough to make the effort.

    DRJ (15874d)

  78. I thought you could discern the pattern well enough. Probably it was a overreaction but seeing as the Law is in abeyance at the federal level.

    Narciso (8816df)

  79. The vast majority live in cities. Having moved from L.A. to New Mexico, I do see some issues with expecting rapid response away from the city.

    Kevin M (21ca15) — 5/11/2019 @ 11:29 am

    Normally, I would agree with you about this except that we already know the Presidio sheriff arrived there within a few minutes. Also, we know that she got cell service, and that she called at least two other individuals. Did she ask either of them to get medical help out there ASAP? In the time that it took her to make those two calls, couldn’t she had called 911 first if it was so urgent to get help? That seems the reasonable choice. That she had an ulterior motive becomes more plausible in light of this.

    Dana (779465)

  80. “I honestly don’t feel like I ever did anything wrong: I stopped to help some kids,” said Ms. Todd, 53, who serves as both the city attorney of Marfa, Tex., and the county attorney of Jeff Davis County, an elected position. “It’s been pretty transformative for me, to be perfectly honest. To have devoted my life to public service, and then to be Mirandized, detained and investigated as if I’m a human smuggler. The whole thing was really, really, very surreal. It was like a ‘Twilight Zone.’”

    Shocked! Shocked she is to find this is how the justice system operates! Look, lady, I may have been born at night but it wasn’t last night, you ain’t fooling anybody with your protestations that you had no idea this sort of thing could happen. What you’re protesting is that all your years being the windshield count for nothing when you’re the bug. How awful for you it must be to be treated as if you were a normal person and the normal rules apply.

    Jerryskids (702a61)

  81. Some Longhorn Band friends of mine in 1978 or so decided to take an ill-considered weekend road trip from Austin to Marfa to see the famous Marfa Lights. As things turned out, the only lights they saw were those of a Presidio County Deputy Sheriff’s cruiser, whereupon they learned that college kids from Sodom-on-the-Colorado (as UT-Austin is sometimes known elsewhere in the state) who were publicly intoxicated could and would be arrested and prosecuted. It turned out to be a very, very long and unpleasant weekend for them, and an unhappy and expensive road trip overall.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  82. (My friends huffed that it was ungentlemanly for Marfans to prosecute public intoxication when their small town’s #1 tourist attraction requires one to have a load on in order to see. Like other sorts of self-pity, this was not a useful legal defense.)

    Beldar (fa637a)

  83. Perhaps these folks were coming to the Marfa area in order to apply for asylum with some authority literally higher than the U.S. government: The Marfa Lights have been variously rumored to be alien spaceships and ancient Native American gods.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  84. And Ms. Todd is their human agent?

    DRJ (15874d)

  85. Has she denied it? 😉

    Beldar (fa637a)

  86. DRJ wrote (#69):

    I know the travel isn’t a problem — West Texans will drive two hours just for dinner — ….

    This is absolutely true, or at least it was when i grew up in the area (1957-1975). From my hometown of Lamesa, our “nice dinner out” choices in much larger nearby towns went in three directions, each roughly an hour’s drive away: North toward Lubbock; south toward Big Spring; and southwest toward Midland. And consequently, I imbibed my earliest political philosophy crouched in the back floorboard of my dad’s Olds or my uncle’s Caddy, listening to the two of them, along my mother and my aunt, discuss current world, national, and state events. These are good memories.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  87. Mine was the floorboard of my Dad’s Buick. Good times indeed.

    DRJ (15874d)

  88. “Knowingly transporting undocumented individuals is a felony federal offense,”

    The same kind of law against helping people exists in Greece, and European righht wing groups (and som governments) try to stop people from sending boats out to sea to rescue migrants in danger of drowning. And they are known to drown, every week or two you can read about it.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-migrant-crisis-rescue-boats-refugees-drowning-charity-mediterranean-a8423261.html

    EU condemns rescue boats picking up drowning refugees in Mediterranean as leaders side with populists

    The European Union has backed the policy of Italy’s new populist government on the vessels

    Jon Stone Brussels |@joncstone |Friday 29 June 2018 15:00

    The European Union has condemned rescue boats picking up drowning refugees in the Mediterranean, in a dramatic hardening of the bloc’s border policy that brings it in line with the continent’s anti-immigration populists ….

    | Ned I say that Russia – that os Vladimir Putin – supports this “populism?

    I repeat again: There ain’t no such thing as a humane (completely) enforced restrictive immigration law. Enforcing immigration laws conflicts with other values, and at some point, enforcing immigration law will have to give way anyway. Nobody is going to go all the way.

    Trump’s now trying to evict families that have an illegal immigrant member (there aren’t any that consist entirely of illegal immigrants normally) from public housing. That’s a new proposal for which comments are being solicited in the federal register.

    Sammy Finkelman (ec94de)

  89. (a) A person who in good faith administers emergency care is not liable in civil damages for an act performed during the emergency unless the act is wilfully or wantonly negligent [.]

    That law does not apply. It says they are not liable for civil but it doesn’t say they are not liable for criminal penalties.

    But they’ll get scared off by the publicity, and won’t enforce it in this case.

    Sammy Finkelman (ec94de)

  90. There are these attempts to try to prevent people from planning to help people. People have been told that even leaving bottles of water in the desert is a crime – abandoning property in a public park if nothing else.

    And they have been sometimes prosecuted:

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/01/20/volunteers-guilty-dropping-water-food-migrants-arizona-desert/2632435002/

    This goes back to the Obama and Bush Administration, of course: (but the appeals courts overturned the conviction)

    http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2016513,00.html

    Case Study
    The Crime of Giving Water to Thirsty People

    By Adam Cohen Wednesday, Sept. 08, 2010

    Daniel Millis, a volunteer with the faith-based organization No More Deaths, was arrested in 2008 for littering. His crime: leaving bottles of drinking water on trails near the Arizona-Mexico border so immigrants walking through the desert would not die of thirst.

    Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned Millis’ conviction, by a 2-1 vote. It was an important ruling. However the immigration debate works itself out, we do not want to be a country that puts humanitarians in prison for giving water to people dying of thirst.

    What is disturbing, however, is how limited the court’s decision was. As a result, people can still be arrested for doing exactly what Millis did.

    ….One of the officers told Millis that leaving water without a permit was littering. The government says that leaving water bottles not only clutters the refuge, but poses a danger to wildlife. The officer told Millis that if he sought a permit, he would be denied one. (Another organization had been given a permit to place water on the land.)

    Millis was given a citation for “disposal of waste” on a national wildlife refuge. When asked by the officer, Millis handed over the GPS coordinates of every location where the group had left water that day. The officers later retrieved 17 bottles of water that had been left along the trails.

    He was given a suspended sentence by a magistrate judge, but nevertheless appealed and it was upheld by district court judge, but the liberal 9th circuit court of appeals disgreed saying that water bottles did not meet the common meaning of the word garbage

    Sammy Finkelman (ec94de)

  91. 46. Kevin M (21ca15) — 5/10/2019 @ 8:08 pm

    . What I don’t know is if danger caused by economic disadvantage leads to an acceptable claim

    Not even running away from death threats by family members or a criminal gang is an acceptable claim of asylum.

    Only running away from governments or governments that deliberatly tolerate threats, provided those threats, or reasonable prospects of serious threats, and we’ll generously interpret that, are based on membership in a particular category of people; or because of the exercise of freedom of religion or freedom of speech and some other enumerated rights like that.

    Extortion doesn’t cut it.

    Jeff Sessions, when he was Attorney General attempted to make that policy clear.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/us/politics/sessions-domestic-violence-asylum.html

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday made it all but impossible for asylum seekers to gain entry into the United States…
    https://www.childrensdefense.org/cdfny/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2018/08/Domestic-Gang-Violence-Report-with-GRAPHIC.pdf
    On June 11, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered U.S. immigration courts to stop granting asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence.

    Now, lawyers can appeal this to federal courts (eventually); or hope that Congress and a new president maybe, or even Trump himself as a result of some deal or a shift in public opinon, will change the law; and they can also try to push square pegs into round holes, which they do. They can also find minor grounds that didn’t actually cause the person to leave that a person wouldn’t bring up on their own.

    Sammy Finkelman (ec94de)

  92. It sppears that the reader’s reaction to this story will depend on whether the reader primarily defines himself or herself as being:
    a) Liberal
    b) Conservative
    c) Human

    John B Boddie (66f464)

  93. How so, John B. Boddie? Because to me these are the important factors that informed my thoughts: She is an officer of the court and yet didn’t immediately call 911 but chose to call a Border Patrol lawyer instead. It makes everything questionable.

    Dana (779465)

  94. If you follow the MSM long enough, you know how they work. When they approve of a policy, then you hear only about the good side and never about the downside. When they disagree with a policy, then you only hear the bad side.

    So, we get tons of stories about “poor illegals” who just want to come here and work. And the brave fellows who help them get in. And ZERO about the Americans hurt by illegal immigration.

    Conversely, we’re hearing constant stories now about “Evil tariffs”. The Soybean farmers (Yes, NPR is talking about them, LOL) are hurt. And “Consumers” are mysteriously paying “Billions” more (for what? Its never said). What about the saving of the steel industry? what about all the Americans who did NOT lose their jobs due to Chinese imports? Oh sorry, those stories don’t exist. In the MSM.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  95. BTW, isn’t it amazing how NPR/PBS/CBS/NBC/ABC/CNN/MSNBC NEVER seem to differ from the NYT or the WaPo? They cover the same stories from the same angle and have the same opinions – on almost EVERYTHING.

    Its almost like they coordinate their coverage. But that’s impossible, because they are ALL independent Journalists who bravely think for themselves and “speak truth to power”.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  96. I think this is one of their “cute puppy” stories, with the cute puppy being a heretofore obscure liberal politician, preferably a woman, that newspapers like to run on occasion. The illegals are a MacGuffin. The point of the story is to showcase Teresa.

    nk (dbc370)

  97. And “Consumers” are mysteriously paying “Billions” more (for what? Its never said).

    Actually Donald Trump just bragged that it was $100 billion (sorry, “billion”) more.

    Do you think he was lying? Otherwise, maybe the mystery is solved!

    Dave (1bb933)

  98. What I agree with, Dana, is your comment #1, which shouldn’t have been a comment but a conclusion to your post. You should’ve made it a conclusion to your post.

    Paul Montagu (7968e9)

  99. @98 (Dana) Looking at the comments here, the majority seem to me to be “upon further reflection” rather than comments directed to the act of giving aid and assistance which I would hope is the normal human reaction when encountering those in distress.

    John B Boddie (66f464)

  100. Is maybe because “upon further reflection” we come to conclusion that Teresa’s Good Samaritan story is so much what you find in cow pasture?

    nk (dbc370)

  101. The local Sheriff/Border Patrol actually got them food, water, and medical assistance. Good for them, right John?

    DRJ (15874d)

  102. @106 DRJ Yes, good for them. I believe that most of the Sheriffs and Border Patrol personnel would do the same thing.

    John B Boddie (66f464)

  103. 106, and for only that, their Arizona-stationed brethren would give them a lot of guff,if one is to believe tales.

    urbanleftbehind (bccba5)

  104. And good for the driver who called them. I agree we should help if we can, but we need to be smart about it.

    DRJ (15874d)

  105. I hope not, ulb. I wouldn’t gratuitously harm an animal, let alone other humans.

    DRJ (15874d)

  106. Apparently, she was going to drive them to a refugee services nonprofit (or where her refugess services friend said to take them and contacted a lawyer for the Border Patrol to make sure of something, maybe about the people she picked up, perhaos to avoid having them detained.

    The newspaper story mentions “Esmeralda’s condition,” but it was only probably that she had difficuty continuing the hike (plus they’d run out of water and they were lost. It seems like the smugglers, who control the border for the most part, had wanted just to abandon her.)

    The big reason they left Guatemala (their first country of asylum) was that some gang member (it doesn’t say if he was MS-13 or 18th Street or something else) had set his eyes on her and wanted her to be his “girlfriend” – probably not a legitimate asylum claim, according to Jeff Sessions.

    Of course people, once they move, go to where they can make a go of it or have a support system so they didn’t stop in Mexico or anything. In Guatemala, they were living with an aunt.

    Sammy Finkelman (ec94de)

  107. Calling the Police – or the border patrol -would’ve been a good response to “Their distress”. Calling a lawyer to help them evade the law was not.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  108. Honey Bun or John,

    Honey Bun mentioned UT’s influence. I assume that is because of the Observatory and its land. Are they liberal like the UT Austin folks? Any connection to Ms. Todd?
    DRJ (15874d) — 5/11/2019 @ 7:13 am

    Traveling for the past day, so late to the reply here — UT’s political footprint in Jeff Davis County is pretty small, other than the rules on upward light leak around the Observatory (oilfield gas flares to the north of there is causing havoc right now). If Jeff Davis County is anything, it’s libertarian, which might have a symaptico mindset with Ms. Todd in terms of not being big on harassment of illegals if they’re coming to the U.S. to work.

    Your Austin-like mindset that would correspond to UT is more to be found in Marfa and Alpine, in the former due to it’s becoming a Mecca for artistic types (starting with the Judd Foundation, based out of NYC) and big city hipsters, while Alpine has Sul Ross State University that ups its progressive quotient some. Marfa’s also has to be the smallest town in the country with a bike-sharing program, and for a population of 2,000, they really rack up the mixed-drink tax collections more akin to urban college towns than to a rural Big Bend community. If it wasn’t so far away from any major airport, it would have become the Santa Fe of Texas by now.

    John (c7bcb1)

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