In October 2010, Marisol Valles became the police chief of Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, a small town near Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Her predecessor had been beheaded by a drug gang, and the whole area has been plagued by horrific drug violence. No one else wanted the job, so Ms. Valles, a criminal justice major at a local college, stepped in. Mexican newspapers dubbed her “the bravest woman in Mexico,” but now, sources in Mexico and the U.S. confirm that she has crossed the border to ask for asylum in the United States.
Ms. Valles asked for an eight-day leave for a personal matter involving her child and said she would return on Monday. The town fired her after she failed to return and they could not reach her. Apparently, she received multiple death threats, and feared for herself and her family.
MSNBC reports that she is in the U.S. and will seek asylum before an Immigration Judge.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in northern Mexico, “hundreds of police officers have been slain by drug traffickers who have targeted officers’ families, homes, and places of work.” Nevertheless, the odds are not in Ms. Valles favor. According to statistics from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, of the 3,231 Mexicans who applied for asylum in Immigration Court in FY 2010, only 49 cases, or about 1.5%, were granted.
The reason for the low success rate is that people fleeing Mexican drug violence do not generally meet the definition of a “refugee,” a person with a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or particular social group. While such people have a “well-founded fear,” they generally cannot demonstrate that the fear is on account of a protected ground.
Another possible reason for the low success rate of Mexican asylum seekers is the U.S. government’s fear of opening the floodgate to many thousands of people who fear the rampant violence in Mexico.
Given Ms. Valles’s high profile, her odds of gaining asylum might be better than the average Mexican’s (or even the average Mexican police officer’s). Whether or not she succeeds in obtaining asylum, her case is another sad reminder of the difficulties faced by our Southern neighbor.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.