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detention center for 73 days. The irony is that the smuggler is out on bail during this time and is usually allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. Frequently the fine is less than the earnings of one load of pollos. The resentment of Border Patrol officers about this is intense. Why spend time doing a good job building a case, they argue, when the smuggler will soon be back in business? Generally, the Salvadorans suffer much more at the hands of U.S. bureaucratic justice than illegal Mexican immigrants do. Approximately 95% of illegal Mexican immigrants are returned to the border, generally the same day they are caught, and offered a “voluntary departure.” Since Mexico refuses to accept Salvadorans apprehended in the U.S. \(even held pending an immigration hearing. Those we talked to had been served papers in English. None knew what to expect or when they would be granted a hearing. While INS had given them a sheet containing the names of organizations which might provide free legal services, virtually all the organizations were more than 100 miles away. In addition, some respondents believed that these were like court-appointed attorneys who would only urge one to plead guilty. At any rate, few call such attorneys; most have resigned themselves to deportation. The deportation hearings are generally mass affairs in which many cases are heard or presented simultaneously. The one-sided nature of these hearings is evidenced by the fact that standard rules of evidence or procedure may be waived by the immigration judge, who is an employee of INS. The prosecuting attorney, also an INS employee, may not actually be an attorney. The only Salvadorans who are granted a “voluntary departure” are those who can pay their own air fare back to El Salvador or those who gain favor with INS officials. Those deported are barred from ever legally immigrating to the U.S. again. The people we interviewed had had their bonds set at between $3,000 and $5,000. Even when a person could show a sterling record, bond reduction hearings we attended never resulted in a bond lower than $3,000. Thus, even those who manage to get legal assistance to keep from being immediately deported will remain in confinement unless a relative somewhere can be found with that much money. The conditions of confinement vary greatly. Since the facility at Los Fresnos, Texas, is strained to capacity, other arrangements are made at local jails. Since there are no facilities for women at Los Fresnos, all the women are locked up in local jails and motels. Salvadorans at one county jail had no beds or mattresses to sleep on and were given only a sheet to spread on the concrete floor. The Laredo detention facility is regarded as terrible. The facility is evidently used for short-term confinement, but those forced to stay there longer stated, “we suffered a great deal in Laredo.” Only rarely did our respondents complain of beatings and physical abuse in the U.S. Many talked, however, of verbal abuse and of favoritism shown Mexicans over Salvadorans. In part, this may reflect the need perceived by INS for tighter security for Salvadorans, who are thus often allowed fewer freedoms and less food. During two weeks in mid-July four Salvadorans escaped from a Texas facility, with a resulting tightening of security. However, by far the most common and deeply-resented complaint of the detainees was the pervasive lack of information about their status or their anticipated deportation. No one is able to guess why some are held for long periods while others are returned very quickly. When deportation is ordered, deportees are generally not told when it will happen. Indeed, it appears that they are informed only minutes before they are to leave and are given no time to make calls to relatives or friends. Their greatest fear is leaving without papers, yet many are shipped out while papers are in transit from home. Apparently once the word comes to leave, contact with other prisoners is restricted. If a man came with his family, he often is scheduled to be shipped back without knowing whether his family will go with him. Apparently this denial of information is a tactic intended to persuade immigrants not to “mess with” an unpredictable system, but in the case of Salvadorans, it is a life-threatening horror. Apparently women are treated better by nervous INS officers who don’t want the trouble caused by accusations of brutality against women and children. Nevertheless, the women are separated from their children and their husbands. . Children have been placed in foster homes awaiting deportation until recently, when welfare agencies were swamped with refugees. Now all that is left is to place such children in juvenile detention centers. Since some recognizance bonds are being given in other parts of the nation, we believe that the high bonds in South Texas could be reduced, particularly when claims to legal channels of entry are being sought. In deportation and bond-reduction hearings, the judge frequently asks Salvadorans why they had spent so much money on illegal entry when they could have pursued legal channels. In our interviews, Salvadorans indicated that frequently the embassy in San Salvador is closed. In addition, many stated, it was generally recognized that the embassy granted legal entry only to the rich or to families of the colonels. Apparently the U.S. government is reserving the status of political refugees to the military and economic elite of San Salvador. The only case of asylum we were told about in South Texas was for a man from Nicaragua who gained asylum by showing a photo of Somoza decorating him. At present the State Department is putting a hold on all claims to asylum from El Salvador. If you are wellheeled enough to afford bond, this could mean a stay in the U.S. until such a determination is forthcoming. In attempting to spread the benefits of asylum some attorneys in South Texas are currently collecting the names of deportees who were killed after returning to El Salvador. Moreover, Amnesty International recently has begun to look deeply into the problems of Salvadoran deportees from the U.S., and the government of Canada is now considering admitting them rather than countenancing their return to El Salvador. Today, another load of Salvadorans was deported. Among them was a young man of great courage and unusual candor in our interviews. He leaves without papers and was not aware of the whereabouts of his family. Both his background as a student and his brief service in the military make him a target. He is angry at having been treated like a criminal for seeking safety and security for his family. As he flies home to an uncertain fate, local T.V. reporters are decrying the expense to the taxpayer of a free plane ride to El Salvador and INS officials are making ready his space in the detention center for an everincreasing flow of future deportees. Maximilian-ouch We have received a letter from Fred Korth of Fort Worth, former Secretary of the Navy, who informs us that somehow we misnamed Mexico’s revolutionary, whom we called Maximiliano, but whose actual name was Emiliano \(“Boyhood in Mexico,” TO Korth is, of course, correct. “One of Mexico’s leading revolutionaries would certainly not be named for Emperor Maximilian!” he says. In all humility, we totally agree. Emiliano Zapata. Last issue’s story on the firing of the editor of Houston City should have carried the signature, R.D. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5