Teresa Todd is the Texas woman who pulled over to help three migrants — and was arrested herself on suspicion of transporting illegal aliens. Todd said she was acting as a good Samaritan and just wanted to help people in need. She has not been charged with any crime, although she could still face Federal charges. Here’s what you need to know about Teresa Todd:
1. She Said She Stopped to Help the Migrants Because They Reminded Her of Her Own Kids
Teresa Todd says she was driving down a West Texas road at about 10PM on February 27 when a young man flagged her down. She stopped because, she said, he looked about the same size as one of her own kids. Todd has two teenage children, as she explained to the New York Times. She said, “I have a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old, and he looks about the same size as my 15-year-old son, and so I literally think, ‘Oh my God, it’s like this kid on the side of the road.’ I turn around and go back, because I can’t leave a kid on the side of the road.”
The migrants who flagged her down were Carlos, age 22; his brother Francisco, age 20; and their sister Esmeralda, age 18. three of them were originally from El Salvador and had fled their home to live with an aunt in Guatemala. But they eventually left Guatemala because, they said, they were afraid of intensifying gang violence. Two of Carlos’s friends were murdered, and a gang leader wanted Esmeralda to be his girlfriend, according to court documents. The siblings headed north for the United States with a group of migrants but became separated from the group after Esmeralda got sick. By the time Teresa Todd met them, she said Esmeralda needed immediate medical attention.
2. Moments After Tood Pulled Over to Help the Migrants, a Sheriff’s Deputy Drove Up Took Her Into Custody
Todd told the New York Times that after she picked up the migrants, she started calling and texting her friends, looking for a way to help them. Moments later, she said, a sheriff’s deputy drove up behind her car. Border Patrol agents arrived soon after. Tood told the Times, “They asked me to step behind my car, and the supervisor came and started Mirandizing me,” said Ms. Todd, referring to being read her Miranda rights. “And then he says that I could be found guilty of transporting illegal aliens, and I’m, like, ‘What are you talking about?”
She was taken into custody and put in a holding cell, where she spent forty five minutes before being released. Federal agents got a search warrant to look through her phone.
3. She Is a Government Attorney Who’s Looking Into Passing Laws to Protect Good Samaritans
Teresa Todd is the county attorney for Jeff Davis County and is also the city attorney for Marfa, in Presidio County. She told the New York Times that she plans to meet with her congressional representatives to work on laws that would protect good Samaritans from federal prosecution in cases like hers. “There is something bigger at stake than just me here, because this does send a message to try to chill people from helping others,” Todd told the New York Times.
On February 27, Todd was coming home from a meeting in West Texas when some young migrants flagged down her car and asked for help. Todd said one of the migrants was in need of medical attention. She asked them to get in her car and started contacting frineds of her to ask for help. Soon after that, the sheriff’s deputy and Border Patrol arrived. Todd was taken into custody and was told that she could face charges for allegedly transporting illegal aliens. She has not been charged yet.
Sheriff Danny Dominguez told CBS that one of his deputies had been responding to a call about a person walking along the road near Marfa. While the deputy was searching for that person, he saw a car stop and then start to drive away. That’s when the deputy stopped the car and found Teresa Todd. The sheriff told CBS, “If you commit a felony, whether you’re trying to help the person or not, you can’t break the law to help somebody…they need to be held up to high standards. The prosecution, whether it’s state, local, or federal jurisdiction, they can’t have double standards for who they are or what they do.”
4. Todd Grew Up in Texas & Has Been Working as a Government Lawyer for Decades
Teresa Todd graduated from Hamilton High School and earned her BA at Texas A&M University. She went on to earn a law degree at the University of Texas law school, graduating in 1991. Todd spent a few years working for an environmental rights group, the Save Our Springs Alliance in Austin. She then went to work as a defense attorney in Travis County.
Todd started working as the City Attorney for the City of Presidio in 1998 and has worked as a government lawyer since then. She currently works as the Jeff Davis County Attorney and the City Attorney in Presidio County.
5. Todd Met Her Husband While She Was Touring the McDonald Observatory
The New York Times describes Todd as a single mother. At one time, she was married to Marc Wetzel, who works at the McDonald Observatory. The couple has two sons, now teenagers. The couple met when Teresa toured the observatory where Marc worked. Wetzel, originally from Arlington, Texas, is now an Education Coordinator at the observatory who trains summer college students starting out work at the observatory.