26 June 2018

This is a Whole New World of Evil

Maria and her 12-year-old daughter surrendered to Customs and Border Protection agents immediately after crossing the Rio Grande on a raft near McAllen, Texas, in the first week of June. It was the final step of their journey from Guatemala, where both of them had been subjected to years of physical abuse by Maria’s husband. They wanted asylum in the United States.

Because Maria had committed a misdemeanor offense by crossing the border, she and her daughter were sent to a processing center where a CBP officer allegedly gave Maria a stark choice. (Maria is a pseudonym to protect her identity.) If she gave up her asylum claim and returned to Guatemala, she and her daughter would remain together. If she applied for asylum, on the other hand, Maria would be thrown in jail for a year and her daughter would be put up for adoption. Maria would never see her daughter again.

Maria recounted this story last week to Edgar Saldivar, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas.

“She was very distraught,” Saldivar told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “Her mind was a bit scattered, but after spending quite a bit of time talking with her, she regained her composure and talked to me.”

Her story of being threatened with the forced adoption of her daughter shocked Saldivar.

“We’ve heard of the history of CBP officers using lies and misinformation to pressure people into signing voluntary departures,” he said. “But in this specific context, where they’re threatening to take a child away and adopting them out to an American family, that was something I had not heard before.”
I am sure that this CBP agent was ordered to get people to leave voluntarily, and I'm sure that he was just following orders.

The term I use for this sort of person is, "Good German."

Hanna Arendt would call this, "The Banality of Evil."


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