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U.S. denying sanctuary to Mexicans fleeing drug war

MortuaryInvestigative reporter Todd Bensman has been writing about Mexican immigrants who are fleeing the drug war but are denied political asylum in the United States. For his first story, he interviewed a Mexican lawyer who said he was brutally tortured by a drug cartel. Today’s article tells the story of a family from Juarez:

In the heat of an August day last year, 10 masked cartel gunmen roared aboard SUVs onto a street in a working-class neighborhood of Juarez, Mexico. Four people soon lay dead amid spent AK-47 shell casings.

Two were brothers who lived with their families a few houses apart and earned extra cash as neighborhood marijuana pushers, court testimony would later show. A third victim that day was the 16-year-old son of one of the brothers; another was a bystander.

The gunmen issued a chilling departing vow: They’d soon return to finish off the four sons of the other brother.

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Their sons’ mother, newly widowed, had heard about a quick legal way out: political asylum in America.

Once over the Paso del Norte pedestrian bridge in El Paso, mother and sons, ages 9 through 22, joined a growing number of Mexicans petitioning for U.S. asylum as permanent haven from the narcotics traffickers besieging Mexico.

But federal immigration judges have denied them all sanctuary and are, one of their attorneys says, “sending them back to their deaths.” Two deported sons are hiding out in drug-war savaged Juarez, where murders are surging despite the military’s presence there.