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Immigrant-Rights Lawyer -- and Her Child -- Detained at the Mexico Border

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 05, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Attorney Nora Phillips had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The immigrant-rights lawyer, an attorney colleague, and others were detained after somebody flagged their passports. The lawyers think the U.S. government did it to retaliate against them for fighting against President Trump's immigration policies.

The adults will continue their battle over the border, but there's a really lousy chapter in the detention story. Phillips' seven-year-old daughter, who was along for a planned vacation, had to sleep on a cold floor and wait in another room while authorities questioned her mom.

Very Bad Day

In the children's book about Alexander's very bad day, everything goes wrong for the protagonist. He can't even get out of an elevator without the door closing on his foot.

For Phillips, she couldn't get out of the country. It was supposed to be a vacation, but turned into a detention, questioning, no food or water, and a crying child. Or as Phillips told the Los Angeles Times, it was "retaliation."

"I think this is because we sued the U.S. government," she said. "I think it's that we're pointing out gross, flagrant human rights violations being committed by the U.S. government, and they don't like that."

Phillips and attorney Erika Pinheiro, who was also detained by the Mexican authorities, work for Al Otro Lado. The organization sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2017 for depriving asylum seekers access to legal process.

Migrant Caravan

In the ongoing border war, the non-profit Al Otro sent lawyers to Tijuana to advise people in a migrant caravan about their rights. Two members of Congress joined them in escorting a group of asylum seekers to the border for processing, the Times reported.

After the detention incident, Phillips held a news conference about it. Mexican officials insinuated that they didn't flag her passport.

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