“Scenes From an American Tragedy”
This July Molly travelled to the Rio Grande Valley to cover the Texas border crisis for Rolling Stone Magazine. Her article appears in this months issue, as well as on the website which features an extended gallery of illustrations and video interview. She attended immigration court proceedings, visited detention centers, and spoke with families seeking asylum about the inhumane treatment they and their children endured while being detained by ICE.
“They humiliate us,” a mother from Honduras told me at the McAllen bus station, where hopeful but exhausted migrants go after their often-traumatic initiation into the U.S. immigration system. “With sticks, they beat the metal bars to wake us up. If the children cry, they go after us. There was a child with a fever. They bathed him in cold water and let him lie naked on the floor except for his underwear. The mother was crying because the child is crying. She wants to cover him, but guards tell her she can’t.”
Almost all of the 80 or so defendants in court pleaded guilty. The process took about a minute each. Many of them had crossed into America repeatedly, to work in the fields or in construction, but most of all to be with their U.S.-citizen spouses and children. Prosecutors argued the multiple crossings were the actions of career criminals, who could only be corrected with incarceration.
One woman sat on the floor quietly crying. Poverty had forced her to leave her two sons behind in Honduras, and one had died in her absence. Another mother sat nervously rubbing coins together between her fingers. She left Guatemala with her six-year-old son after her father threatened to hack the family to death with a machete. She told me that most people in custody with her had signed forms in English that they were unable to read, in hopes of being let out of the crowded hielera: “‘What if I never sign, and I’m never let out,’ I thought. I think almost everyone signed. No one knew what those documents said.”
Get the full story and slideshow here, or pick up a copy of Rolling Stone this month.