Mexicans Seeking Refuge Join Forces, Speak Out
One member of Mexicans in Exile is Cipriana Jurado, a
human-rights activist who opposes President Felipe Calderón’s deployment of the
military to Chihuahua. She was approached by a stranger who said that if she
continued her protests, her name would be added to the list of activists gunned
down in the border state.
TEXAS TRIBUNE: By Julian Aguilar
April 12, 2012
Juan Fraire Escobedo’s mother was gunned down in 2010 while protesting outside the
state government offices in Chihuahua, Mexico, two years after his teenage
sister was killed in Ciudad Juárez. Saul Reyes Salazar, a former city secretary
in the nearby town of Guadalupe, buried six members of his activist family in
three years. His nephew Jorge Luis Reyes, who was orphaned by the age of 19,
takes comfort in knowing where his mother is buried so he can leave flowers at
her grave — if he ever steps foot in his native Mexico again.
“The Mexican government paints a picture that everyone
dying in Mexico is because they’re related to the cartels,” Fraire said of the
murders stemming from the government’s battle against drug trafficking. “That’s
Now, Fraire and the Salazars are exiles, the term preferred by them
and their lawyer, Carlos Spector of El Paso. They are displaced Mexicans seeking
refuge north of the Rio Grande after fleeing a government-sanctioned war in
Chihuahua, where thousands have been slaughtered since 2006. Staying there, they
believe, means they could be next to die.
They have bonded through their common tragedies, and
formed Mexicanos en Exilio — Mexicans in Exile. In the process of filing
paperwork to become a nonprofit, the group is planning lecture tours to raise
awareness about its members’ plight and the tragedy that led them to become
foreigners in a land they never wanted to call home.
Spector said the group is still learning how to best draw
attention to its message: raising awareness of what it says is the systematic
slaughter of the Mexican people. The group also knows it is capable of upsetting
all sides of the American political spectrum on issues like border security and
“We are going to shake things up,” Spector said. “Nothing is being left off the table. We have to do something.”
The group has 50 members, including reporters and
activists who were threatened for refusing to stay quiet, people who Spector
said were targeted first when the military arrived in Chihuahua in 2008.
Relatives of those who have perished, at the hands of criminals or soldiers,
have also joined — out of fear for their lives, and also to fight for justice
for their slain relatives.
David Carter, a member of the Immigration Reform
Coalition of Texas, which espouses conservative views on immigration, including
broadening immigration-enforcement authority for local law-enforcement officers,
said that he did not think the group would contribute anything to the “basic
problem of securing the border with the nature of their
He said he is concerned that criminals are coming to
Texas to escape enemies in their country, but reiterated that that was not what
he thought Spector’s clients are doing. “That is separate and distinct from
these people that are seeking regular political asylum,” Carter
“I left in June 2010 with two of my kids,” she said,
adding that she thought she would eventually be able to return. “That wasn’t the
way it happened. My fellow activists were eventually murdered.”
The exiles credit their lawyer for saving their lives through his representation, which has
garnered most of them the chance to live as peacefully as they can in Texas.
Though wealthy Mexicans can apply for investor visas or other legal means of
entry, the exiles had no choice but to seek asylum.
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