Picture of Tori Marlan

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America’s Young Detainees

Three boys stumble out of the back of a border patrol van. Their sweatshirts, jeans, and boots are filthy, and their lips are flaky. One boy has red cheeks, chapped by the cold desert wind. The boys each clutch a small bag. They are silent and watchful as their driver – a man in a green uniform with a gun on his belt – hands them over to a woman in the parking lot of a low-slung brick building near El Paso. “Mucho gusto, jóvenes,” the woman says to them. The boy with the red cheeks understands the most Spanish. At home, in their small village in southwestern Guatemala, the boys speak Mam, a Mayan dialect. The woman unlocks the building’s front door with a plastic card and ushers them into a small room painted lavender. The driver hands her three folders containing the boys’ fingerprints and mug shots. The boys sit at a square table in the center of the room and take in the scene. A colorful painting of an indigenous woman holding

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