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A Woman Was Held Captive and Assaulted For a Decade, and Our Immigration Laws Are to Blame

A Woman Was Held Captive and Assaulted For a Decade, and Our Immigration Laws Are to Blame

It took a decade, but a woman who was abducted as a teen has been reunited with her family after ten years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, including giving birth to her captor’s child. But the joy that comes with her return has been dampened with the realization that, if she hadn’t been so afraid because of our country’s immigration laws, she may have not spent so long abused, alone, and in hiding.

Like many kidnappings, the alleged victim knew her kidnapper; he was her mother’s ex-boyfriend. Yet despite the fact that her family would have known this assailant, she remained imprisoned, even forced to marry the man who abducted her. He held her to him by using her fear that she would be deported, returned to Mexico and separated from her family if she went to the police because she was in the country illegally.

“According to police, Garcia told her that if she tried to contact her family, the police would deport her to Mexico and that he was her only hope,” reports the Associated Press. “She was locked up at first, but she eventually began to lead what appeared from the outside to be a normal life. ‘Even with the opportunity to escape, after years of physical and mental abuse, the victim saw no way out of her situation,’ police said in a written statement.”

That a teen, then later a young woman, would find it safer to stay captive, even abused, than risk contacting the police or her family points out the intrinsic issues that we have with our country’s immigration laws. In what circumstances should anyone fear obtaining assistance to get out of a harmful and in this case decade long situation of ongoing abuse because it could result in her leaving the country?

Sadly, however, this has become a commonplace situation. In 2011, Republican state politicians were pushing extreme anti-immigration bills that would leave victims of crime in danger of being deported if they were in the country without documentation if they dared to report to the police. Lawmakers backing the bills in essence argued that if they wanted protection, they shouldn’t be in the country illegally in the first place.

“My thought is that if someone is here illegally, they should be afraid to come forward,” argued a Massachusetts state representative pushing such a bill. “If you do it the right way, you don’t have to be concerned about these things.” He even went on to say that victims of crimes should rightly be deported, because only U.S. citizens have the right to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty.

What we are seeing in the case in California is the obvious end result of these punishing anti-immigration laws. According to reports, the alleged victim was just 15 when she come into the country illegally, and was there for just six months before she was drugged and kidnapped by her mother’s boyfriend after he got into a fight with her mother. She knew no English, and he kept her first locked away, then later obtained false papers in order to marry her, then kept her in his presence at all times, even getting them jobs together so he could watch over her. Between his constant presence and her belief that leaving him would get her returned to Mexico, there is little wonder she endured it for a decade before contacting police for help.

Our immigration laws have set up police as an adversary for those who are undocumented, especially women. They are afraid to report rape, domestic violence, even imprisonment and kidnapping. It is a literal market for abuse and slavery, all under the guise of protecting our country and our citizens.

It’s obvious that our immigration laws need a rehaul, despite the GOP’s reluctance to do so. But at the very least, we need to ensure that a person who has been victimized by a crime should feel safe in going to the authorities to report that crime without fear of repression or deportation. It is a necessary measure that will protect everyone, citizen or not.

No person should ever have to make the choice between a decade of sexual assault and being deported.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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78 comments

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4:30PM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

don't know what to think......

5:11PM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

Just love the compassion shown by Phil S. and Deborah W.

And all the poor people are not making it 'cause it's their own fault. We should all just get a job (I looked for 4 years) and buck up and admit that we're losers who deserve what we've gotten.

THIS is what is wrong with our country; it's called the Entitlement of the rich. I pay all my own bills, have never been on welfare; I was born in this country and part of my inheritance is Native so why don't YOU go back to where you came from before you judge that this girl got what she deserved.

1:53PM PDT on May 27, 2014

Anyone else heard this story ...

She had her own car, was in and out for shopping and classes, invited her mom to visit, and had many opportunities to blow the whistle ... and that all this, 10 years later, is due to an upcoming separation and/or divorce.

Anybody else hear this side of the story?

1:15PM PDT on May 27, 2014

i got a speeding ticket and i'm blaming immigration laws for that too..
Or should i be held responsible for my own decisions??
ie; Had she NOT came here illegally to begin with --

While i do sympathize with her (and many others) plight to better themselves -- Crossing international borders is against the law "for many reasons".. 1. For the safety of the people who live there.. 2. Who knows what diseases that could be carried with them.. 3. If it is so easy - Even a terrorist could do it...

Sorry - But that was "HER Choice" 10 years ago.. And she needs to spread that message onto the next ones who may think of doing that..
She can tell them to go about it Legally..

7:33AM PDT on May 27, 2014

Terrible! It makes you wonder how many other cases like this exist that haven't yet been exposed.

7:32AM PDT on May 27, 2014

A nightmare!

7:31AM PDT on May 27, 2014

Horrifying unanticipated results.

7:12AM PDT on May 27, 2014

How tragic - what does this say about our laws . . . . .

5:54AM PDT on May 27, 2014

What a tragic story.

5:13AM PDT on May 27, 2014

Horrible

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