¿Dónde Está La Frontera?

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Fellows Spring 2002

By Michael Flynn

June 09, 2009

Spring 2002 IRP Fellow Michael Flynn (right) with Anastasio Chop Garcia and Pascual Ortiz, two returned refugees from Xaman, Guatemala.

Spring 2002 IRP Fellow Michael Flynn (right) with Anastasio Chop Garcia and Pascual Ortiz, two returned refugees from Xaman, Guatemala.

In the early morning of December 3, 2001, Kanu Okany Patel, a 35-year-old undocumented migrant from Gujarat, India, furtively made his way to the bathroom of a government-run detention center in Guatemala City, tied one end of a sturdy cord he’d secretly stripped from a window curtain around his neck, the other around a shower head, and hanged himself.

Patel died without ever knowing why he was in Guatemala. Several months earlier, he and dozens of other undocumented migrants from India were arrested in Mexico, accused of trying to enter the United States illegally. The migrants claimed that the Mexican police destroyed their personal documents and stole their money before turning them over to Mexico’s migration service, the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), which placed them in a detention facility in Mexico City.