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Heartbreaking Videos Show Texas Troopers Ripping Immigrant Families Apart During Traffic Stops

Since the election of Donald Trump, the Texas Highway Patrol has become frontline enforcers of federal immigration laws. State troopers have developed a well-oiled deportation machine that scoops up drivers for minor traffic infractions, then funnels them to the Border Patrol an Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It’s difficult to know exactly how often this is happening. Through public records requests, the ACLU of Texas determined that the agency’s internal documentation did not record the handovers of several individuals who the organization’s field organizers knew had been detained by the highway patrol, imprisoned, and removed from the country.

Subsequently, The Intercept obtained several DPS dashcam videos that show immigrants being detained on the road for trivial violations and then carted away by the Border Patrol.

The dashcam video below, taken by the Texas Highway Patrol, shows a routine traffic stop turn into a nightmare for one family.

The details of these deportations were gathered initially from DPS paperwork and dashcam videos, obtained through open records requests. We then located the detainees and their families, including in Mexico. The Intercept made house visits and played the videotapes. As they watched, parents and children talked about how their lives were upended by Texas state troopers and current state and national immigration policy.

As told by The Intercept, One such arrest was Ruth Mariel Ramirez, 30, who has four children, three of whom were born in the U.S.

On a Sunday morning early last March, Ruth went shopping and then bustled to prepare for an 11 a.m. Bible class. She intended to go home, wash and iron Jaime’s clothes, and prepare food for his coming week’s travel. 

Church ended early Sunday afternoon, and Ruth and her daughter were driving home in the truck when they were pulled over by a pair of state troopers, riding together in one vehicle. Hearing their siren, Ruth couldn’t imagine what she’d done wrong. She was not perturbed when the troopers now told her she’d been stopped because her windows were tinted too dark. But she eventually realized that this stop wasn’t really about windows. It was about her immigration status. By evening, she’d been sucked into the DPS-Border Patrol deportation pipeline.

That pipeline begins with a Texas Motor Vehicles department regulation mandating that no one can get a driver’s license without showing proof they are in the U.S. legally. Many undocumented Texans are now forced to drive without a license, especially in areas with patchy to nonexistent public transportation.

Another DPS dashcam shows Trooper Mirna Gracia pulling over Luis and Berta, who asked that pseudonyms be used to protect their family from retaliation. The incident occurred on another Sunday afternoon, when the couple was on their way to church.

In the video, Gracia directs Luis to pull in to a convenience store parking area, scolds him for speeding, and asks for his license. Luis didn’t have one, so Gracia begins questioning him and Berta about their immigration status. That’s when the nightmare began for the immigrant family.

Gracia then summoned a Border Patrol agent. She tells Luis and Berta that someone needs to come for the car and the couple’s young son, who’s in the front seat. Berta calls her 16-year-old son, Alan, who is the captain of his high school soccer team. In minutes Alan arrives, in shorts and flip-flops, looking stricken.

“The Border Patrol’s gonna take your dad,” Gracia tells the boy in English. He begins to weep. “Son, don’t cry,” Berta says in Spanish. Then, to the trooper: “Ayúdenos!” Help us!

“Yo estoy haciendo mi trabajo, ma’am,” Gracia replies. I’m doing my job.

With no money for immigration attorneys, Luis and Berta were deported.

The Texas Department of Public Safety did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

You can read the entire report here.

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