When a man arrived at Benavides’ shop last year, soaked from the river and stinking after hiding all day in a trash can, she gave him fresh clothes and food in a hat box, so he wouldn’t attract agents’ attention. When Benavides saw the woman with the baby, she didn’t call the Border Patrol either. Instead, she watched for signs of distress.
The woman didn’t appear scared. She spoke Spanish, as do most people in Roma, asking about children’s boots. And she posed another question: Why had Border Patrol agents approached her outside?
Benavides relaxed, explained who the agents were pursuing, and rang up $50 boots. She was spared having to make a decision.
Border Patrol agents once broke a shop window with their batons as they chased an immigrant. In November, a smuggler fleeing agents crashed his car into the store, cracking a wall. No one was injured, but Benavides was stuck with repair bills. She didn’t intervene in either case.