As Winston talked and answered a barrage of questions from the men who hoped to glean from her some crack in the legal walls that might lead them out, I sat down at one of the metal tables to listen. A short man named Jose left the group that had gathered around her and walked over to me. His right eye had a thick, white film covering it and the skin beneath was scarred.
“I’ve heard all this, and there’s nothing to help me,” he said, in Spanish.
“I lost my eyesight in one eye,” he said. “In Krome,” a detention center in south Florida where he was held for months before he was moved to Baker, “they didn’t give me my meds for an infection. Now I can’t see anything from my right eye.”
Then Jose pulled down the collar of his t-shirt and showed me the long, raised scars on his chest.
“This is why I don’t want to go back to Mexico,” he said. “This is from torture in Mexico.”
Mexican federal cops tortured him in a town near the border, as he made his way back to the United States. He had been picked up driving without a license in South Florida and deported over a year ago. The police thought he was a member of a drug cartel, but he says he’s just an immigrant who had lived in the U.S. for 14 years. When the beating and cutting was over, he was left on the side of a dusty road in the border town. After three days living on the street, he decided to try to cross again.