By Adriana Gómez Licón / El Paso Times
After fleeing Mexico to request asylum, the young police chief of the Juárez Valley was released from a detention center in El Paso and moved north of the U.S. border, officials said Tuesday.
The location of Marisol Valles García, 21, and her family is not being disclosed.
"Marisol Valles García is in the United States, and she will have the opportunity to present the facts of her case before an impartial immigration judge," said an official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The ICE official did not provide any more details pending a privacy waiver. A date for the immigration hearing has not been set.
Valles left her post in Praxedis G. Guerrero, a town of 4,700, on March 2 after receiving death threats. Valles brought her infant son, her husband and her parents.
The Chihuahua Human Rights Commission said immigration agents in El Paso interviewed Marisol Valles García last week to see whether she had credible fear to flee her country and seek asylum. It is not clear when or why ICE officials freed Valles.
ICE records state that Valles could have been released pending the outcome of her case or because she was transferred into the custody of another agency. Some detainees remain in ICE custody for months.
Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, human-rights ombudsman in Juárez, said two of her relatives are still in ICE custody in El Paso, while Valles has moved to the interior of the United States.
"The U.S. government is treating her more considerately," said de la Rosa Hickerson. "She asked immigration officials not to disclose where she was going to be. She is keeping a low profile and is protected."
De la Rosa said they will not disclose her whereabouts until Valles and her family feel safe.
Valles, a criminology student and mother, had been the police chief of Praxedis since October. The town had been without a chief for about a year after her predecessor was beheaded.
After the mayor of Praxedis announced the appointment of young Valles, reporters and photographers traveled from across the world to meet Valles and see her in action. Valles, hailed as the country's bravest woman, did not carry or know how to operate a gun.
She was part of an experiment to transform police officers more into social workers to regain trust in the community.
This week, Newsweek magazine included her in the list of "150 Women Who Shake the World."
Valles, a petite woman with a soft voice, in the past said that she was proud of the positive results and the drop in crime in Praxedis.
Soon, Valles appeared to have been caught up amid the narco war that ravages the lucrative drug corridor that she policed.
De la Rosa said Valles told relatives that cartel members tried to kidnap her. He said drug traffickers wanted Valles to side with one cartel.
The Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels are in a fight in Juárez and in the farming towns southeast of the city.
Still, Valles never told the mayor or the second in command of the death threats, town officials said.
On March 1, Valles asked the mayor, José Luis Guerrero, for a leave of absence to attend personal matters and was supposed to return to work on Monday. Reports began to swirl of death threats against her and of her asylum request across the border.
When Praxedis town officials wanted to reach her, they couldn't. A town employee told de la Rosa that he saw her crossing the international bridge from El Porvenir into Fort Hancock on Wednesday.
Praxedis Mayor José Luis Guerrero fired her on Monday. Despite news media reports, Andrés Morales Arreola, the second in command, did not want to comment on Valles' flight, saying he has not received any confirmation of her asylum request.