Friday, March 11, 2011
Will Mexico's Runaway Sheriff Find Asylum in the U.S.? - TIME
When 20-year old criminology student Marisol Valles was sworn in as a police chief in the embattled Mexican state of Chihuahua in October, she became an instant celebrity as the bravest woman in Mexico. Pundits and media commentators cheered the slight, bespectacled, innocent-looking young mother who had the guts to stand up to the drug cartels. What made her especially valiant was the fact that her predecessor as police chief of the small farming town of Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero had been kidnapped and beheaded. The new sheriff said she would not even carry a gun, but would focus instead on community policing to cure the murderous ills.
Now, five months later, Valles has hit world news again with more ominous headlines: she has become the latest Mexican to seek political asylum in the United States.
However, it remains to be seen how judges will decide these cases. Mexico's narco war has seen 35,000 drug-related killings in four years. In 2010, U.S. courts received 3,231 applications from Mexicans for political asylum — some related to the drug war, some to other issues of persecution. The judges only granted asylum to 49 of those people, less