February 17, 2021 743 PM
MARFA — Last Tuesday, Marfa Police Chief Steve Marquez was doing a patrol near Marfa schools when he spotted two men. They were acting suspicious, peering over fences and looking into yards, he recalled in a follow-up interview last week.
Marquez decided to stop and ask them who they were. When he tried to talk to them, though, the men took off running towards the school. That was bad news, especially after a similar situation in 2019 prompted lockdowns at the schools. “It was right before lunchtime,” Marquez recalled. “Kids were out for P.E. and on the track.”
Marquez chased after one man on foot and ultimately caught up with him. Mitch Garcia, a Presidio County Sheriff’s Office deputy who’d heard chatter about the incident over police radio, caught the other in his truck. Garcia, Marquez figures, also put in a call to Customs and Border Protection, which soon arrived on the scene.
When Marquez asked the men for identification, he understood why they were running. They said, “We crossed over from Mexico,” Marquez recalled. “All they had were Mexican licenses.”
As police chief in Marfa, Marquez says it isn’t his policy to ask people he stops about their immigration status. But often, this is just how arrests of immigrating people happen: they panic when they encounter city police — and once they’re formally under arrest, authorities realize they have no documentation.
Both men were turned over to Border Patrol, Marquez said — but in a follow-up call on Tuesday, a CBP spokesperson did not yet have information to provide on the arrests. Instead, like many in Marfa, CBP was focused on more pressing challenges this week, including a lack of power and the safety of their agents.