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Between the Fences: Before Guantanamo, there was the Port Isabel Service Processing Center Paperback – July 6, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"People who care about social justice and America's image in the world should read former prison guard Tony Hefner's disturbing account of sexual and physical abuse at Port Isabel. We need to know. Was Port Isabel an isolated case of prisoner abuse or does similar abuse occur at other detainee centers? Has the abuse ended at Port Isabel or does it still occur? How do we know? What, if anything, is the federal government doing to monitor what happens behind the closed doors and locked gates of its detainee centers?"—Carol M. Swain, editor of Debating Immigration

Hefner, a guard in the 1980s at the Port Isabel immigration detention center in the Rio Grande valley of Texas, witnessed physical, emotional, financial, and drug-related abuses perpetrated on detainees by INS officers. Hefner cites instances of gross misconduct, and laments "the men, women, and children caught between the fences of U.S. government policy and the degenerate power of its enforcers" at Port Isabel. He recalls that INS officers and security supervisors demanded sexual favors from detainees, for example, and unlawful inspections of detainee court papers and possessions. Though Hefner empathized with his fellow guards, he made efforts to stop the abuse, contacting the Office of the Inspector General, the FBI, leading state politicians, and even the U.S. Attorney General, though he doesn't know if his efforts resulted in any action. The author's ethical and political positions are clear; while we send armed servicemen and women to prison for abuse abroad, he states, we don't "...hold federal officials accountable for the same crimes within our own borders." His book is a valuable first-person account of an important and timely subject.
Publisher's Weekly

About the Author

TONY HEFNER is a human rights activist and founder of the Bearing Precious Seed Ranch ministry in Southern Texas for local Hispanic children. He has appeared on Inside Edition, PBS, and many other radio and television news programs where he reported the abuses taking place at Port Isabel. Tony and his wife Barbara now live in northern Michigan, where he continues his fight with national officials for new investigations.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; Reissue edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583229124
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583229125
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,706,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In the 1980s I attended college and then graduate school for social work in San Antonio, Texas. The 'sanctuary movement' as well as other immigration issues/concerns were conversations both in and out of the classroom. I had made quite a few trips to "the valley" or Rio Grande area with friends to shop in bordertowns and hang out at the beaches... Today, I live in northern Michigan. It was in my small city of Bellaire where I met a man by the name of Tony Hefner.

During these past two years I have run into Tony and we would strike up conversations. From these interactions I have concluded that I have been talking with a gentle and humble man who would give the shirt off his back to anyone who asked for it. He is a man who I admire as he is trying to live a simple life of loving others the way his Lord loves him.

As I read Between the Fences, I was moved by the fact that the man of character that I know in Michigan is the man of character in the book. The story in the book, to me, is about a loving man and his face to face struggle with basically evil: a corrupt system in Port Isabel and very bad people in positions of authority.

Between the Fences is an awesome, informative and simple read that "is a call to action demanding that we look inside the detention centers on our own soil." It is also a wake up call for good people to really think about how they themselves would respond to evil situations that are harming lives of others. I don't know how I would respond; and I pray that I would never be in such a position Tony was in.

Someone once said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. What Tony Hefner did between the fences gives me hope.
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Format: Paperback
Tony Hefner has created a masterpiece in BEHIND THE FENCES. This story of abuse in the Port Isabel Processing Center will curl your hair--and it's all true. Rape, abuse, blackmail; all play huge parts here.
Equally as compelling is Hefner's personal story, woven through, as he tries to come to grips with the horrors at his workplace, and how that affects his ministry in South Texas.
Not only is this a must read, but a completely compelling one as well. You will, in the end, come to know a man of great faith, persistence, and with the inability to turn his face from what he has seen--even as he pays for it with everything, including threats on his life.
Beautifully done.
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Format: Paperback
Between the Fences is a great read, easy to pick up but hard to forget. Mr. Hefner writes in a very readable style that keeps you coming back to see the plot unfold. He writes not as a hard-line leftist but as an honest and religious man trying to do right in a system gone very wrong. The abuse and the threats against Tony are frightening and it's hard to imagine what anyone would do in a similar situation.

With the immigration debate going on, and a much more sensible president,
this is a timely book that shows what people go through attempting to secure a better life for themselves. This reader hopes that Mr. Hefner will truly be heard.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book while researching immigration detention in general, and it has become a valuable resource in my research. Most of the things you will read about detention centers are from an outside perspective--advocacy groups shedding light on conditions that detainees write them letters about, government agencies reviewing conditions and allegedly making sure they are up to standards, or students like me trying to spread awareness about these places. Mr. Hefner's work is so special because it offers an inside perspective. As an agent within the Port Isabel facility in TX, he witnessed first-hand atrocities towards immigrants and other agents who did not want to join the corrupt system. He put his own life on the line so that others would not have to suffer. His work should be commended and all Americans should know about these facilities. All people, regardless of color or country of origin, should be treated with dignity. As a part of humanity, we owe each other that much.
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Format: Paperback
This book is about true events that happened in an immagration holding facility in the United States. It is also about one courageous, and caring man who put his whole life on the line to expose the system of corruption. This book is a must read, it is very informational on how our legal system acts and responds to illegal activity in our country and with-in the system itself.
The book is very interesting and inspirational....there are still some "good guys" out there.
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Format: Paperback
Guantanamo wasn't unique. "Between the Fences: Before Guantanamo, there was the Port Isabel Service Processing Center" is a story from Tony Hefner telling of one of America's other non-standard prison, where undocumented immigrants were held. His story one is of abuse of many types, and lets his story be known before it's swept up in history. "Between the Fences" is an intriguing read of American trespasses on human rights.
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