This Christmas, while you were cozy at home, opening presents, a Texas woman was just thankful to be out of prison. Anamichelle Castellano was arrested at the border while she was attempting to cross from Brownsville, Texas, to the town of Matamoros, Mexico, and remained there overnight.
Castellano works with a non-profit organization called Socorro Foundation. Their mission is to help immigrant families who have been displaced and separated from their families. She has crossed the border many times in order to help people stuck in Mexico, as they await news of their asylum requests. This time, however, it was a bit different and a lot more unfortunate.
Castellano and her family had wrapped around 300 Christmas gifts to give to these displaced families. On the day she headed out to Mexico, her car wasn’t working, so she took her husband’s car. When she got to the border, Mexican border officials wanted to inspect each package by unwrapping it. In order to prevent all the gifts from being unwrapped, Castellano agreed to get her car and the gifts checked with an x-ray device. The device detected a box of ammunition in the vehicle. Castellano informed the officials that the box of ammunition belonged to her husband. It was his car after all, but officials didn’t care and detained the woman and her daughter.
“Her husband had put them in there a long time ago and forgotten all about them,” Castellano’s mother Mary Lopez told ABC13 News. According to her family, officials in Mexico began to threaten her with federal charges even though she ended up being charged with possession of ammunition. Jehu Castellano, Anamichelle’s husband, said that Mexican officials demanded them to pay thousands of dollars in order to get his wife out of jail. He said that even with the help of lawyers, officials would not budge.
“He refuses to compromise to anything even though it’s something so minor, and so he’s not bending,” Jehu said on Facebook. “We had one attorney, it was a different attorney, and he came, and when he went to talk to them, he came back and said he needed so much money to be able to help us, and it was a ridiculous amount of money, in the thousands.”
Mexican officials initially requested $8,000 for her release. They then lowered it to $4000. Her husband was able to get $3000. Castellano was able to spend Christmas with her family, but it’s unclear if she was able to distribute her presents. Her husband was able to take some of the gifts to the families in Mexico.
“I mean, this is Santa Claus coming in to give toys to the unwanted, and you’re doing what? You’re doing what? You’re threatening her for what?” Castellano’s father, Genaro Lopez, said to ABC13.
It is quite sad that Mexican officials would go to such horrible lengths to stop this woman from doing God’s work. We genuinely hope this terrible situation doesn’t deter her from going back and helping the people who desperately need it.
Click here if you’d like to donate and help the Soccorro Foundation continue to do good work.