May 30, 2008

Neighbors' complaints lead to rooster roundup

Neighbors' complaints lead to rooster roundup
By FRED DAVIS, The Enterprise

Updated 05/29/2008 11:51:13 PM CDT

They weren't pit bulls and there were no NFL superstars banking the operation.

Instead, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Narcotics Unit came across what could be described as a minor league cockfighting operation run by undocumented Mexican immigrants behind a mobile home in the 7300 block of Shady Lane in western Jefferson County.

"We understand they were fighting the roosters every Sunday and training them to fight in Louisiana," said Sgt. Randy Walston.

Aside from the dozen or so roosters the narcotics officers discovered, there was also an ounce of cocaine tucked inside a woman's sock behind some insulation under the mobile home.

Officers also found a small amount of marijuana and mango-flavored rolling papers.

The cocaine had a street value of $1,300 to $1,400.

The four immigrants and a 40-year-old Orange woman were arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Maj. Jimmy Singletary said all five were booked into the Jefferson County Jail and that the four immigrants would be held by Immigration, Customs and Enforcement officials without bond. A bond had not been set on the Orange woman.

Singletary said complaints from neighbors spurred surveillance of the home, which led to a search warrant executed late Wednesday night by the Narcotics Unit and Jefferson County SWAT.

Det. Robert Ogden said it was clear from fresh scratches that the roosters were being used for cockfighting.

"I saw one rooster that you could tell had been sparring recently," Ogden said.

The roosters, despite the nicks and scratches, all appeared to be in good condition and didn't look malnourished, Singletary said.

While there is no specific cockfighting charge, the five suspects could face charges of cruelty to livestock animals, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and or $4,000 fine.

Jefferson County Animal Control is expected to take custody of the roosters.

Immigrants not taking our jobs

Immigrants not taking our jobs
Saturday, May 31, 2008

After receiving a variety of responses to my last article on common immigration misconceptions, I have decided to present one more. This time I will focus on business-related immigration.

Misconception: Immigrants are taking American jobs.

Just to clarify, this is not addressing employers who hire someone who they know is not authorized to work in the first place.

A great deal could be written about this topic, so I will focus on one of the more popular types of temporary work visas, the H-1B. Temporary work visas come in all letters of the alphabet. Some allow for an application for residency after a certain number of years and others do not. Under an H-1B, one can usually work for up to six years and then an application for permanent residency is often an option. After five years as a permanent resident, one can apply for citizenship.

So, why don't immigrants take American jobs? Well, consider the following: Under an H-1B visa, an American employer, large or small, can sponsor a foreign worker. Depending on the type of job, that employee must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree or have several years of qualifying experience. Many times the employee has a master's degree or higher. Doctors, engineers, educators, researchers and other professionals typically use an H-1B visa.

The sponsorship process is costly and very lengthy. First, the employer usually finds a foreign worker that they want to employ. Second, to sponsor an employee, the employer must prove to the Department of Labor that they will pay the employee more than the typical wage for that specific job in that area or more than the actual wage for their other employees. Third, and importantly, they must certify that they are not hiring anyone as a replacement for an American worker, such as someone on strike. Fourth, after approval from the Department of Labor to hire a foreign worker, the employer must post the labor condition agreement from the Department of Labor at the job site or present it to the union, if one exists. Finally, if there are no objections, the employer can then attempt to sponsor the employee.

Wait! It does not stop there!

Congress currently only allows 65,000 H-1B visas per year and it is first come, first served. In fact, the first day an employer can apply for an H-1B visa each year is April 1 with the employee not being able to start until six months later. The past five years, the annual cap was reached on April 1. In fact, this year there were over 160,000 applications filed on that day for the 65,000 slots. If approved, these employees cannot start working until Aug. 1. Since so many applications are received, they are put into a lottery and "winners" are chosen. The losing employers get the message "try again next year."

This is just one of the many types of employment-based visas available and each type has differing requirements. However, the H-1B example paints a pretty clear picture that under our current immigration system, it is not easy for a company to legally hire a foreign worker.

The process is complicated, difficult, and costly and happens only when there are no workers in the United States to fill the post. The economic impetus to "steal" jobs from Americans just does not exist.

Michelle Richart is an attorney with Badmus Immigration Law Firm, with offices in Abilene. You can contact Michelle at MRichart@badmuslaw(dot)com.
Another Immigration Law Ruled Unconstitutional
Thu, 05/29/2008 - 12:13 — Judicial Watch Blog

A Clinton-appointed judge has ruled that a Dallas suburb’s ban on apartment rentals to illegal immigrants—passed by city lawmakers and later endorsed by voters—is unconstitutional because only the federal government can regulate immigration.

U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay said that city leaders in Farmers Branch violated the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution because they didn’t defer to the federal government on this immigration matter. That, in turn, allows the federal government to pre-empt local laws, according to the judge.

The Farmers Branch council passed the ordinance in 2006 in an effort to curb the illegal immigration crisis that has devastated the entire state of Texas as well as other border states. The measure would have barred apartment rentals to illegal immigrants and required landlords to verify legal status in the country. Violators would have faced a misdemeanor charge punishable by $500.

Farmers Branch citizens subsequently voted—by a 2-to-1 margin—in favor of the ordinance, marking the nation’s first public vote on a local law to combat illegal immigration. Last year Judge Lindsay sided with a politically connected Latino rights group in temporarily blocking the measure from being enacted, claiming that Farmers Branch created its own classification to determine which non citizens may rent an apartment in the city.

The judge also said in his May 2007 temporary injunction that the ordinance deputized landlords to serve as federal immigration agents and that city officials were regulating immigration differently from the federal government. This week’s ruling simply makes that temporary injunction permanent.

Like many cities across the nation, Farmers Branch has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend legal challenges to laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Many of the nation’s smaller municipalities have been forced to abandon their own measures in order to avoid costly litigation. The first was a southern New Jersey town (Riverside), which actually reversed a law that punished those who hire or rent to illegal aliens under threat of litigation by a notoriously liberal civil rights group.

Several other local governments have seen their laws get defeated by liberal judges like Lindsay, whose 1998 appointment to the bench was historic because it made him the first black federal judge in Northern Texas. Escondido California and Hazleton Pennsylvania are among the municipalities whose measures to curb illegal immigration have been struck down in court.

One popular web site that claims to objectively rate judges across the nation posted a variety of unfavorable comments relating to Lindsay’s Farmers Branch ruling. One reader questions how a judge can stop something that the people voted for. Another challenges the judge’s alleged unconstitutionality of the Farmers Branch law, pointing out that his1 2-year-old has a better grasp of the Constitution.

Link to website mentioned

May 29, 2008

State focuses on tougher border enforcement

State focuses on tougher border enforcement

By Lynn Proctor Windle,Managing Editor
(Created: Thursday, May 29, 2008 3:38 PM CDT)

Even though controlling illegal immigration should not be the state’s responsibility, the $110 million the state has spent on the problem has proved to be a wise investment, a local state representative said following his second trip to the border.

During his second fact-finding trip to research the severity of the illegal immigration problem along the border, State Rep. Thomas Latham said he continues to hear the same horror stories from ranchers and law enforcement agents.

Dealing with property destruction, trash, disease and threats from armed illegal militia have become routine for Texans who live along the Border, Latham said.

So far Texas has spent $110 million expanding law enforcement efforts, the representative said.

“Texas shouldn’t have to do that. Texas shouldn’t have to spend the money, but if we’re going to spend it has to be spent effectively,” he said.

So far, the investment seems to be paying off. Boarder crime is down by 60 percent. Law enforcement officers are better armed with better weapons and advanced crime-fighting tools such as night vision equipment, scopes that can peer into gas tanks and stud-finder-like devices that can measure tire density. Even game wardens are armed more heavily, he said.

Still more can be done. Though Latham will not return to Austin during the next legislative session, he is calling on colleagues to introduce measures to provide grants to counties to cover the full cost of additional personnel for three or four years.

Typically, similar grants cover only partial costs for shorter periods.

The Sunnyvale Republican said he also would like to see stricter identification requirements for obtaining a Texas driver’s license or state-issued identification card. And state-issued IDs should show proof of U.S. citizenship, he said.

Currently getting a driver’s license or state ID card requires “proof of identity satisfactory to the department,’ according to the Texas Department of Public Safety documents.

Texas is so lax in handing out driver’s licenses that many illegal aliens obtain their licenses here, and then use them to get drivers licenses in states that have tougher initial requirements.

Nationwide, Latham said he has heard that at 1,500 bills will be introduced in various state legislatures across the county because the federal government will not deal with the issue, he said.

At least 30 of those bills will be introduced in Texas alone, he said.

Some bills propose crackdowns on money wires sent from Texas to Mexico, charging an 8 percent surcharge on each transaction. Billions of dollars sent by Mexican nationals leave the United States each year, making it Mexico’s second largest industry after tourism, Latham said.

Other bills would remove illegal aliens from welfare rolls and make them ineligible for food stamps.

More extreme measures would prohibit children born in this state to illegal aliens from being recognized as citizens. This measure is specifically designed to set up a court battle to challenge the constitutionality of automatically granting citizenship to everyone born in the United States.

This would eliminate the problem of the so-called anchor babies that open the door for illegal aliens to collect state and federal benefits.

Latham also said would like to see more money spent on awareness campaigns geared toward Americans who participate in human trafficking.

Latham said it’s common for truck drivers with empty rigs to earn easy cash for bringing people across the boarder. Most who participate do not realize they could get jail time and fines for participating, but few realize that they also could loose their commercial driver’s licenses.

Latham said that if these people realized all the consequences they face, they might not be so quick to participate.

Comment below or contact Lynn Proctor Windle at

May 28, 2008

More illegal immigrants are being charged criminally in Austin

More illegal immigrants are being charged criminally in Austin
Prison time comes before deportation for some.
By Steven Kreytak


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

His mother had suffered a stroke, and his family needed money. So even though he had been deported once from the United States last year, Edgar Rodriguez-Sarmiento left his home in a rural Honduran village, paid a smuggler $2,000 to get him across the border and sought work while living in an Austin apartment off East Riverside Drive in January, according to court documents and his lawyer.

Six weeks later, Rodriguez was arrested on public intoxication charges and brought to the Travis County Jail. He was tagged by immigration agents and became enmeshed in a federal effort to charge even those with minor or no criminal history with the crime of re-entering the U.S. after deportation, a felony.

The effort, part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigration, has led to a surge in the number of undocumented immigrants in Austin who are being hit with a felony conviction, and sometimes sent to prison, before being deported.

The practice has been criticized by immigrant advocates and defense lawyers, who call it a waste of resources.

In recent years, about three to five people a month were charged in U.S. District Court in Austin with returning to the United States after deportation. In March, when Rodriguez was indicted, 17 people were charged with the crime in federal court in Austin, according to an American-Statesman review of cases.

In April, federal prosecutors in Austin charged 21 people with illegally re-entering the United States after deportation, and this month they have charged 25, according to the review. A total of eight people were charged in January and February.

Illegal re-entry is punishable by as much as to two years in prison. If the defendant has a previous aggravated felony, the maximum punishment goes up to 20 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton is leading the federal effortin the western district of Texas, which covers a wide swath of the border, including the cities of El Paso and Del Rio.

A recent report by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse said the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency had filed 8,064 cases nationwide in February, a 43.8 percent increase compared with February 2007.

"There's a strong push to enforce the immigration laws and to be more aggressive," Sutton said. "Criminal illegal aliens are being prosecuted where maybe sometimes in the past they weren't."

Until two years ago, Sutton's office had a long-standing practice of prosecuting for illegal re-entry only immigrants who had previously committed an aggravated felony, such as rape, burglary or drug trafficking, or who had been deported and re-entered the country numerous times. The 2006 increase in cases against some immigrants with minor or no criminal histories appeared to be part of a national crackdown. But Sutton said at the time that there wouldn't be a sustained increase in those cases. There wasn't, until this year.

Adrian Ramirez, a San Antonio-based assistant field director for ICE's detention and removal division, said things changed in December or January after agency officials met with federal prosecutors in Washington. After that meeting, Ramirez said, agents were told to bring the cases of any immigrant who had been previously deported, even if they had no significant criminal history, to the U.S. attorney's office, which had agreed to prosecute them.

"They wanted a big push on that," Ramirez said. "Prosecution is a deterrent, especially for people who have already had an opportunity to be here, were deported and came back."

Ramirez oversees immigration agents who look for undocumented immigrants in prison and jails, including the Travis County Jail, where the increased presence of immigration agents this year has drawn protests in Austin.

ICE officials have said that from January 1 through March 31, the agency placed 763 immigration holds on inmates at the Travis County Jail — an almost 400 percent increase from the same period last year. That means that after the cases of those inmates are adjudicated, ICE is contacted to take possession of the person. Most are deported immediately, Ramirez said. The ones who have previously been deported are referred to the U.S. attorney's office, which prosecutes them in federal court.

A spokesman for Sutton said he did not know the average sentence for people found guilty illegal re-entry in Austin but said that in the western district of Texas, about 65 percent of defendants in immigration cases receive less than three years in prison.

"As a taxpayer, it's ridiculous that federal prosecutors are having to spend their time on these cases," said Horatio Aldredge, an assistant federal public defender who has defended many of the people charged with immigration crimes in Austin. He said that court personnel — defense lawyers, judges, prosecutors and clerks — are working harder than ever to handle the cases.

Rebecca Bernhardt, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, questioned whether federal resources are being used wisely. "It goes against the trend that's happening at most state law enforcement levels of taking jail and prison resources and choosing not to deploy them towards nonviolent offenders," she said.

Of the 71 people charged in federal court in Austin since Jan. 1 with re-entry of a deported alien, 39 were discovered by immigration agents in the Travis County Jail, two were found in the Travis County state jail, an intermediate prison, and nine were discovered in the jails of counties outside Austin.

The rest, authorities said, were found during criminal investigations, such as when ICE breaks up an immigrant smuggling operation and finds that some of the human cargo have previously been deported.

"All these individuals ... presented for prosecutions, even for what some may consider a minor violation like entry after deportation, they all ... have come into our custody in some sort of criminal environment," said Gerry Robinette, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in San Antonio, who oversees the Austin office. "It's not like we went out there and blindly picked on somebody."

One of the defendants recently prosecuted for illegal re-entry in Austin was Jaime Segura-Moreno, who in 2005 was sentenced in Corpus Christi to 17 months in prison for unlawfully transporting illegal immigrants within the United States. He was deported after he was released from prison in 2006 and found in Travis County in December. He was at a house being investigated after a report that immigrant smugglers were holding someone against their will pending payment of their smuggling fee, according to statements made during Segura's sentencing hearing last week. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel [appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003] sentenced Segura to almost five years in prison for illegal re-entry and six months for violating his supervised release on the previous charge.

Rodriguez, the Honduran who said he returned to the United States because his mother suffered a stroke, is from a rural village called Santa Teresa, where he worked as a corn farmer. He was arrested in January after Austin police found him passed out in the front seat of a car whose driver was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, according to court documents.

Aldredge, his lawyer, said the 22-year-old earned about $800 as a laborer while in Austin, not enough to cover his smuggling fee. Last week, Yeakel sentenced Rodriguez to the approximately three months that he had served awaiting sentencing

At the hearing, Rodriguez told Yeakel: "I am not coming back."; 912-2946

May 25, 2008

Catholic group organizing illegal immigrant sanctuary

Catholic group organizing illegal immigrant sanctuary
Associated Press
Sunday, May 25, 2008

SAN ANTONIO -- A group of faith-driven activists is trying to organize a network to help illegal immigrants who fear new local immigration-related laws and massive raids.

The advocates -- all Catholic -- hope to provide places to stay, food and health care for immigrants. They have a few families who have volunteered to host immigrants but ultimately want to open a shelter.

If the project is successful, immigrants seeking sanctuary would simply need to ask for "Romo."

The name refers to Toribio Romo, a Mexican priest who was killed in the 1920s and later canonized as a saint. Many crossing the border illegally invoke Romo when praying for safe passage into the United States.

"We are the new Sanctuary Movement in San Antonio," said group member Victor Ruiz, 63, who works for the immigration division of Catholic Charities. "If immigrants need help, we will do all we can to help them out."

The original Sanctuary Movement was a religious effort started in the 1980s to help Central Americans fleeing the region's civil wars.

Similarly, New Sanctuary Movement coalitions have formed nationwide to offer refuge to parents whose pending deportations would split them from their U.S.-born children.

"What they're doing over there is incredibly powerful," said Kristin Kumpf, a national organizer with Interfaith Worker Justice in Chicago and a national spokeswoman for the New Sanctuary Movement. "I'm grateful that people of faith in San Antonio are welcoming our immigrant brothers and sisters."

Members of the Romo group in San Antonio point to an increasingly anti-immigrant atmosphere in the country and cite the New Testament's Matthew 25 as a religious requirement to help the stranger or outsider.

"Immigrants need to know that they're not alone, that not everyone in this country is their enemy," said Father Donald Bahlinger, 79, a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church who spent nearly a decade in Central America in the 1990s.

For now, the group visits day laborers to offer them breakfast and small cards bearing a picture of Saint Toribio Romo on one side and a prayer and phone number on the other. The number connects people with a prepaid cell phone dubbed the "Romo line" that will be the contact point for immigrants seeking help and for supporters who want to volunteer or donate.

Authorities warn that while they support people acting on political and religious convictions, they can't ignore the breaking of immigration laws against transporting or harboring unauthorized immigrants.

"I'd caution them that good intentions could make them criminally liable," said Jerry Robinette, director of investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Antonio. "They have to make the decision whether they want to violate the law or not."

Even Archbishop Jose Gomez, who leads the Archdiocese of San Antonio, questioned the Romo group's stance, saying sanctuary for immigrants historically has been a political statement and not only religious charity.

"We respect the laws of this country," said Gomez, who's originally from Monterrey, Mexico. "We're not promoting illegal immigration or any kind of sanctuary movement."

Group members understand they're flirting with violating federal immigration laws. Some are more willing to risk arrest than others, but all say religious and moral tenets surpass what they think are unjust laws.

"We're accomplices if we don't speak out against this injustice," said Lee Theilen, who works at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

Texas man indicted in illegal immigrants case

Texas man indicted in illegal immigrants case
Article History
This is the latest version.
May 24, 2008 3:18 PM (23 days ago) AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Map, News) - A Texas man has been indicted and charged with bringing 17 illegal immigrants into Tennessee and three other states.

The office of the U.S. Attorney for Middle Tennessee said Friday Jose Jasso-Cuevas is charged with transporting the immigrants for private financial gain.

Officials say Cuevas was driving a van and pulled over May 5 in Dickson County, where officers found the 17 illegal immigrants. They were taken to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Nashville.

Cuevas was transporting them from Texas to Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

A criminal complaint states Cuevas knew the passengers were not legal citizens, and he believed most of them to be from Mexico, The Tennessean reports.

The complaint said Cuevas told officers he worked for a company in Houston and was paid $550 per trip for driving illegal immigrants to the U.S.

Copyright 2008 The Associated

May 24, 2008

Sting nets 84 illegal immigrants

Sting nets 84 illegal immigrants
Arrests for ignoring deportation orders or skipping hearings were in Austin, San Antonio and Rio Grande Valley.
By Juan Castillo


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Federal officials on Friday announced the arrests of 84 people on immigration violations, including 56 who had failed to appear for hearings or had ignored a judge's final deportation orders.

The arrests in Austin, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley were part of a four-day operation that began Sunday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

Those arrested are from El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Kenya, Guatemala and Honduras. They were arrested by fugitive operations teams based in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The agency said it created its fugitive operations program in 2003 to eliminate a backlog of fugitives and ensure that deportation orders are enforced.

"If you ignore a federal immigration judge's deportation order, ICE will find you, arrest you and return you to your home country," said Marc Moore, field office director of the agency's office of detention and removal operations in San Antonio. Moore oversees an area that includes Austin, San Antonio, Waco, Harlingen, Brownsville and Laredo.

About half of the arrests were in Austin. Among those arrested was Maximo Flores-Avila, 57, a Mexican citizen who was living and working in Austin. The agency said Flores-Avila has a criminal history that includes assault with bodily injury, unlawfully carrying a weapon and forgery. He was ordered deported in 2006 after an immigration appeals board reaffirmed a federal judge's 2005 deportation order, the agency said.

Twenty-eight of those arrested were immigration violators the teams encountered during the operation.; 445-3635

Minor leaguer traded to Laredo for 10 baseball bats

Minor leaguer traded to Laredo for 10 baseball bats
By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN Associated Press Writer, © The Associated Press
Updated 05/24/2008 11:06:04 PM CDT

Even though small independent baseball leagues notoriously try to draw fans with promotions like "vasectomy night" and "midget wrestling," these two teams had good reason to swap a right-handed pitcher for 10 bats.

The Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League couldn't get newly signed pitcher John Odom into Canada for immigration reasons. And the Laredo Broncos of the United League were willing to take a cheap gamble on a pitcher.

Oh, and the Vipers really, really wanted some new bats.

And so Odom, 26, about a month after being acquired by a Canadian team, found himself Tuesday on the roster of a team on the Mexican border. All for the price of 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black 34-inch C243 style.

"They just wanted some bats, good bats _ maple bats," Broncos General Manager Jose Melendez said Friday.

According to the Prairie Sticks Web site, their maple bats retail for $69 a piece, discounted to $65.50 for purchases of six to 11 bats.

The Vipers had signed Odom, but it seems Odom had a "minor," but unspecified, criminal record that wasn't revealed to immigration officials before they scanned his passport, Vipers President Peter Young said.

An Atlanta native, Odom said the charge stemmed from a fight he was in at age 17. Although he thought it had been expunged from his record, it popped up during immigration.

Odom spent hundreds of dollars driving to the Canadian border, staying at a Montana hotel while the matter was sorted out and then on to Laredo after the trade.

Odom, who was released by the San Francisco Giants organization this spring, said he was supposed to be traded for the Broncos' best hitter. But when that player balked at moving to Calgary, the bats entered the deal.

Laredo offered cash for Odom, but Young said that was "an insult."

The bat trade wasn't the first time Calgary tried some creative deal-making. The Vipers once tried to acquire a pitcher for 1,500 blue seats when they were renovating their field, Young said.

Odom was taking it stride and looking forward to pitching again after three weeks on the road.

"I don't really care," Odom said. "It'll make a better story if I make it to the big leagues."

Odom is scheduled to be activated Monday. And he'll get his first start Wednesday, Melendez said.

"It will be interesting to see what 10 bats gets us," he said.

Roswell businessman accepts plea deal in raid case

Roswell businessman accepts plea deal in raid case
© The Associated Press
Updated 05/24/2008 11:06:04 PM CDT

A top official of an Roswell aircraft painting shop will pay $300,000 in fines in an illegal immigration case.

Carl Baldwin, vice president of Dean Baldwin Painting Inc., pleaded guilty Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Robert Scott in Albuquerque to three misdemeanor counts of knowingly employing and accepting falsified documents from illegal immigrants, U.S. Attorney Gregory Fouratt said.

Baldwin admitted employing illegal immigrants from 2002 to 2005, Fouratt said.

The U.S. attorney said the fine was the largest of its kind ever imposed in an immigration case in New Mexico.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities raided the company's plant in Roswell, N.M. and arrested 15 illegal immigrants in August 2006.

Baldwin originally was charged with 10 felonies.

Federal prosecutors agreed to allow him to plead guilty to the misdemeanors instead in part so the company could continue to do business in Roswell, the Albuquerque Journal reported in a copyright story Friday. The federal prosecution wasn't intended to jeopardize the company's operations or the jobs of its employees, most of whom are U.S. citizens, Fouratt told the Journal.

The Journal said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Wong said a felony conviction could have made it difficult for Baldwin to keep the security clearance he needs for work at airports.

"We're pleased with the outcome and we're pleased that it is resolved," said Jason Bowles, Baldwin's attorney.

Baldwin also will be on probation for three years.

"Mr. Fouratt felt that the wrongdoing had to be punished, but didn't want to penalize the employees who were lawfully employed at the company by shutting it down," Norm Cairns, spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Albuquerque, told the Roswell Daily Record.

Baldwin and his company were ordered to pay a total of $550,000 in the case that arose from the raid on the Roswell plant. The U.S. Department of Labor administratively sanctioned Dean Baldwin Painting, ordering it to pay $250,000 for employing illegal immigrants.

The company released a statement expressing disappointment in the U.S. attorney's reference to an administrative sanction "for employing illegal aliens." The company said it has "worked hard to implement personnel practices to guard against the employment of illegal workers" and is enrolled in federal programs to help businesses screen prospective employees and check the citizenship of current ones.

Charges originally were directed solely at the company, but Baldwin was charged after prosecutors alleged he accepted falsified documents from immigrants.

The company, which has headquarters in the San Antonio suburb of Bulverde, Texas, is under contract to paint commercial and U.S. military aircraft at the Roswell International Air Center.

The Air Force temporarily suspended Dean Baldwin from receiving new contracts but said it could continue previously contracted jobs.

The business recently lost a nearly $23 million economic development and lease agreement with the Midland Development Corp. when the governing body of the Texas city rescinded the deal after learning about the immigration raid and that the company owed taxes to New Mexico.

The state of New Mexico charged last year that the company owed back taxes. Dean Baldwin challenged the claim, but lost in the state Court of Appeals.

Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Dan Foley, R-Roswell, worked together in February to craft a long-term plan for the business to pay more than $522,000 in taxes, interest and penalties.


Information from: Roswell Daily Record,

May 22, 2008

3 suspects in prostitution inquiry will be tried as juveniles

May. 22, 2008

FORT WORTH — The cases against three of four teenagers accused of forcing runaway girls into prostitution will remain in the juvenile court system, an attorney involved in the case said.

Judge Jean Boyd this week certified Martin Reyes, 17, to stand trial as an adult. Reyes already faced an adult charge of engaging in organized crime for alleged crimes that occurred after he turned 17.

The rulings came after a seven day-hearing that offered glimpses into a troubling world of teenage sex, drugs and partying in south and east Fort Worth.

The suspects, three of whom are now 17 and one who is 16, face charges ranging from sexual assault to human trafficking to forced prostitution. Prosecutors Tim Bednarz and Riley Shaw had sought to have them certified as adults.

During the hearing, a police detective described a ring of young men who forced runaway 14- and 15-year-old girls into prostitution through beatings, sexual assaults and threats. Customers were found by trolling low-income apartment complexes.

"Kind of like selling cookies door-to-door," testified Detective H. Murtaugh, describing how the suspects operated.

Defense attorneys pointed to a lack of physical injuries and suggested that the girls willfully abused drugs and participated in prostitution. They also argued authorities were inconsistent by charging some young people who were present when the alleged crimes occurred, and not others.

Defense Attorney Raul Nevaraz, whose client will remain a juvenile, "I think it was difficult to tell from the testimony what may or may not have transpired as far as any force."

Arrest leads to wider investigation

The alleged ring came to the attention of police in August 2007 when 32-year-old Debra Castillo was arrested for allegedly prostituting a 14-year-old girl at an east Fort Worth apartment complex. [To an illegal alien, Jorge Martinez - 32]

Castillo told police she was pimping the girl as a favor to one of the teenage suspects who had intervened when a man harassed her, Murtaugh said.

That arrest morphed into a human trafficking investigation in which four victims — ages 14 to 16 — were identified, Murtaugh said

A fifth victim said that she was sexually assaulted in 2006 after some of the suspects took her to a hotel.

The victims told similar stories, Murtaugh said. All had run away from home. At first, the suspects feigned affection for the girls and supplied them with Crown Royal, cocaine and marijuana. Eventually, the girls were forced to have sex for money.

One girl said she was forced to go into an alley and have sex with three men in a row, she said. The girls were told: "If you don't, you can't be my girl anymore, or I'll beat you, or I'll kill your family."

All four were also sold to Chang Lee, the 56-year-old owner of a southeast Fort Worth convenience store, Murtaugh said. Known as "Cheno," he had a cot in a back room covered by a curtain at his store, Murtaugh said. He paid for the girls with cash and alcohol, Murtaugh said.

Lee is out on bond awaiting trial on a charge of organized crime.

Lee's attorney, Warren St. John of Fort Worth, said of the allegations: "I don't think there is much truthfulness to that."

From partying to prostitution

Defense attorneys argued that the girls weren't forced into anything.

They pointed to text messages between one girl and a suspect in which they discuss a trip to Cheno's store. The girl asked when the boys would pick her up and how she would get home.

One 16-year-old girl testified that she used drugs and alcohol and had run away from home up to 20 times. She said she met and began partying with one suspect in early 2006.

At parties, she would do "three or four lines of cocaine" and drink alcohol, she said.

"At the time, I liked it," she said.

The prostitution started as "a weekend thing," she said. Later she wanted to stop, but the suspects wouldn't let her. They stopped letting her use the phone and got mad if she hung around other guys.

She agreed with defense attorneys that she did not mention the prostitution or abuse to police when she was arrested as a runaway while the ring was supposedly operating.

"I was afraid to tell them," she said.

Defense attorneys questioned her about her MySpace page on which she wrote that girls could be pimps too.

"It's like a fun saying," The girl answered. "You know how guys are; we're saying girls can be like that too."

ALEX BRANCH, 817-390-7689

Nelson discusses transportation, immigration, economy, education

Nelson discusses transportation, immigration, economy, education

BY DAN EAKIN, Staff Writer
(Created: Thursday, May 22, 2008 2:58 PM CDT)
| Text Size | Print Version | E-mail This Story

Transportation, immigration, the economy and education are among the major issues facing the Texas Legislature, State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, told area business leaders in a joint meeting of government affairs committees Thursday morning at the Lewisville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The Capitol is buzzing right now, with decisions to be made which will affect all of us,” she said.

“Everywhere I go, people want to talk about transportation,” she said. “We have to make sure those arteries stay open. It is a quality of life issue. None of us want to spend an hour and a half in traffic that we could be spending with our families.”

“With gas costs increasing, there is going to be a greater need for public transportation,” she added.

Charles Emery, chairman of the Denton County Transportation Authority board of directors, told Nelson that Denton County is the second fastest growing county in the United States with populations more than 500,000, and that 150,000 people and 130,000 vehicles are added to the North Texas Council of Governments’ nine-county region every year. He said the region now has a population of 6.5 million people.

Speaking of the economy, Nelson said Texas is now the only state “that is in the black,” and that is largely due to a booming economy in the Metroplex. “We are the economic engine that is turning the whole state,” she said. “One-third of the economy of the state is generated in the Metroplex.”

On the subject of immigration, Nelson noted that Oklahoma and Arizona have passed tough laws dealing with illegal immigrants, and said Texas may need to consider updating its laws in order to keep illegal immigrants from moving from Oklahoma and Arizona to Texas.

“However, much of this has to be dealt with at the federal level,” she said.

About education issues, Nelson said, “We need to make sure our teachers are paid well.”

Nelson, a former school teacher, said there is a shortage of math and science teachers throughout the state.

“Someone skilled in math and science may have to choose between teaching at $40,000 a year or going to work for a company who needs these skills as well for $80,000 a year,” she said.

“We are fortunate in our area to have great schools,” Nelson said. “People move to Denton County because they know we have great schools.”

Dr. Jerry Roy, Lewisville Independent School District superintendent, told Nelson that a large influx of new students can create problems for the school district.

“Every time we see 1,000 new students, we wonder where we are going to get the money,” he said.

Nelson said she is also concerned about how much public school systems in the state will be affected by rising gasoline costs.

Following Nelson’s address, Austin resident Lance Lively, legislative director of the Texas Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), presented Nelson with an award for her strong support of independent businesses.

Laura Stromberg, NFIB spokesperson, said Nelson voted in favor of nine issues supported by NFIB.

“We consider Senator Nelson to be a strong ally of small businesses throughout the state,” Stromberg said.

Contact Dan Eakin at 972-628-4075 or at Comment on this story at

Merida Initiative Continues to Move Forward

Press Releases 08
Merida Initiative Continues to Move Forward

Statement by Ambassador Antonio O. Garza

Mexico City, May 22, 2008 - “Today the U.S. Senate passed a supplemental budget bill that includes funding of the Merida Initiative. This is another step forward for this important program to strengthen cooperation between the United States and Mexico to fight the drug trade and organized crime that impact both our nations. However, it is still not final action.

“It is important to point out that, due to differences in the versions of the bill passed by the House and the Senate, we expect the legislative process to continue over the next several weeks before a finalized bill is sent to the President. During this process, the contents of the bill could change significantly.

“The inclusion of funding of the Merida Initiative in both the House and Senate’s bills signals Congressional support for this important measure to enhance ongoing U.S. programs for cooperating and coordinating with the Mexican government. President Bush’s support for the initiative has been unwavering. He strongly believes we must support our neighbor in the fight against organized criminal organizations that threaten citizens in both our countries.

“The version of the bill approved today by the Senate differs significantly from the version passed by the House last week, particularly as it relates to domestic spending and funding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Due to these disparities, the House must now either vote on the Senate’s bill, or a conference committee must convene to work out new language.

“Once both legislative chambers have agreed upon a bill, it will be presented to the President for approval. I am confident that the Merida Initiative will be enacted in due course, enabling Mexico and the U.S. to build upon our already successful security cooperation and share in the fight against narcotrafficking. I again urge U.S. legislators to pass this important program.”

May 21, 2008

Texas Border Coalition urges Lt. Gov. Dewhurst to support expansion of CHIP health insurance

2007 - Texas Border Coalition urges Lt. Gov. Dewhurst to support expansion of CHIP health insurance




Efforts to make it easier to qualify for, and remain on, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is in the hands of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is being urged by the Texas Border Coalition to support House Bill 109, a measure that could help reverse the increase in the number of uninsured children in Texas.

Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, is a joint author of HB 109, which also in co-authored by the majority of the Texas border legislative delegation in the House.

CHIP is health insurance designed for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet cannot afford to buy private health insurance, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. CHIP enrollment fees and co-payments are based on the family’s income. Enrollment fees are $50 or less per family for each six-month term of eligibility and most co-payments for doctor visits and prescription drugs range from $3 to $10.

The Texas Border Coalition is an alliance of elected leaders and economic development officials representing more than 2.1 million residents who live on the Texas side of the border with Mexico.

El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez, chairman of TBC’s Committee on Border Health, has delivered a letter in behalf of TBC to Dewhurst requesting his support to expand medical coverage for children under the CHIP program.

In his letter, Rodríguez requested Dewhurst to “please lead the Texas Senate in passing comprehensive legislation this session that simplifies the CHIP enrollment process.”

The letter also suggest that, in exchange for the implementation of yearly renewals, a system could be set up to closely monitor those applicants with incomes near the limits imposed by the federal government, reducing the likehood of families with earnings 200 % above the poverty level from remaining enrolled in the program.

Rodríguez added that expanding coverage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) is a wise decision, because “it saves local tax dollars, helps education and improves our state’s economy.”

TBC contends that only Dewhurst’s strong support can assure that a similar bill filed in the Senate is brought up for a vote before the legislative session comes to an end. In the past weeks, Dewhurst has expressed his opposition to any bill that would allow children to apply every year instead of every 6 months as it is currently required.

However that particular change is considered key to increase the number of children enrolled in the program.

Since September 2003, when the 6 month re-enrollment provision was adopted, the number of children covered under the program declined more than 35 % of the total. The decrease affects particularly border communities such as El Paso, who now have the highest rates of uninsured children among all Texas counties.

Besides negatively impacting children’s health, high rates of uninsured hurts local communities in many ways, Rodríguez said. It costs counties and hospitals millions of dollars in paying for unnecessary emergency room services; it costs the school districts millions in absenteeism, and the state misses the opportunity to tap into hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

Dewhurst has expressed his willingness to work out a compromise to allow the annual renewals if a system is set in place to ensure that only eligible children are covered.

Texas House wants end to 'ghost voting'

Texas House wants end to 'ghost voting'
CBS 42 Reporter: Nanci Wilson
Last Update: 5/21 6:41 pm

Ghost Voting May End
Legislature To Look At Its Voting Practices

Related Links
CBS 42 Investigates
Click to watch the original story.

The CBS 42 Investigates report has been viewed on the Web over one-million times. When CBS 42 documented News documented Texas legislators 'ghost voting' -- lawmakers voting in place of one another -- they started looking at ways to curb the practice.

On Wednesday morning, a House committee will hold a hearing to explore solutions. These reforms could curb lawmakers' ability to push the buttons for other members.

Here's what investigative reporter Nanci Wilson caught on tape in the last legislative session. Legislators voting several times on bills. They voted for other members behind them, across the aisles and across party lines.

"There has been many times people have been voted when they were not in Austin, not in the State Capitol and not even in the united states of America," Chairman of the House Administration Committee Tony Goolsby said.

Such voting is fairly common, but according to the official House rules it isn't supposed to happen. After lawmakers saw the story, the Speaker of the House ordered a committee to study the issue and make recommendations on alternative ways for lawmakers to cast their votes.

One idea is to use biometrics, which means a fingerprint is needed to cast a vote. That may also mean that lawmakers may not have to be at their desks, but they will need to be inside the Capitol.

Copyright 2008, Four Points Media Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Illegal Immigrant Sentenced In Officer’s Murder

Illegal Immigrant Sentenced In Officer’s Murder

May 20, 2008--A jury Tuesday in Houston sentenced an illegal immigrant from Mexico convicted in the 2006 shooting death of a policeman to life in prison.

On May 8, jurors found Juan Leonardo Quintero-Perez, 34, guilty of capital murder in the slaying of Houston Police Officer Rodney Johnson, 42, during a traffic stop.

Johnson was shot several times after arresting Quintero-Perez for driving without a license.

Records show Quintero-Perez was deported in 1999 after he was convicted of indecency with a child.

Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for Quintero-Perez.

Slain Officer's Widow Sues Killer's Employer, Threatens City

Slain Officer's Widow Sues Killer's Employer, Threatens City

POSTED: 8:01 am CDT May 20, 2008

HOUSTON -- The widow of a Houston police officer killed in the line of duty has threatened to sue the city and filed a lawsuit Monday morning against a business owner who employed her husband's killer, KPRC Local 2 reported.

Jossyln Johnson has demanded the city change its policy regarding the number of officers in a patrol car.

Johnson, a Houston police officer herself, said that her husband, Rodney, would still be alive if he had a partner in his patrol car.

Juan Quintero murdered Officer Rodney Johnson in his patrol car during a traffic stop on Sept. 21, 2006. Quintero was handcuffed in the back of Johnson's patrol when he pulled out a gun he had hidden in his waistband and fatally shot Johnson.

Josslyn Johnson said she wants the city to require two police officers per patrol car for the officers' safety. If the city does not make the policy change by June, Josslyn Johnson said she will seek damages from the city from her husband's death.

"The fact that we go home every night is important to us and our family and it shouldn't be an issue," she said. "We need two men in each unit. You need someone there with you to back you up when you arrive on the scene. You just don't know what the scene will result in."

The city of Houston responded to Josslyn Johnson's threat.

"It will be up to Chief Harold Hurtt and his command to make the decision as to what to do with the HPD recourses," a spokesman for the city said. "Everything will be evaluated by the city".

The Houston Police Department Union said it supports and agrees with Jossyln Johnson.

"The bottom line is HPD needs more man power. Before Officer Johnson was killed, two other officers were killed in he line of duty because they were alone," a union spokesman said.

Ben Dominguez, Johnson's attorney, also announced that a civil suit has been filed against Quintero's employer, Robert Camp of Camp Landscaping in Deer Park. Dominquez said Josslyn Johnson is suing him for negligence.

"The owner of the company gave a man with a warrant out for his arrest, and who had alcohol and drug problems, a car to drive," said Dominguez. "He did not have a driver's license and he did not train him or teach him well. We believe if Camp did not employ Quinterro, Officer Johnson's death might have never happened."

Dominguez said Johnson wants damages of no less than $10 million from Camp.

KPRC Local 2 was unsuccessful in attempts to reach anyone with Camp Landscaping for comment.

Camp has also been charged with a federal crime. In January, the U.S. Attorney's Office charged him with harboring an illegal alien. United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle said Camp helped Quintero illegally enter the United States in 1999 and gave him a job and a place to live after Quintero was deported in 1998. Camp also posted bond for Quintero in 1998 when Quintero was charged with indecency with a child.

Previous Stories:
May 19, 2008: Jury Deliberates Cop Killer's Punishment
May 15, 2008: Both Sides Rest In Cop Killer's Punishment Phase
May 14, 2008: Family Testifies In Cop Killer's Punishment Phase
May 13, 2008: Punishment Phase Begins In Slain Officer Trial
May 8, 2008: Immigrant Found Guilty Of Killing Officer
May 6, 2008: Doc: Alcohol Withdrawals Caused Problems For Accused Cop Killer
May 5, 2008: Cop Killing Trial Enters Second Week
May 2, 2008: Psychologist Testifies In Cop Killing Trial
May 1, 2008: Suspect's Brother Testifies In Cop Killing Trial
April 29, 2008: Videotaped Confession Played In Court
April 28, 2008: Suspected Cop Killer Enters Insanity Plea
January 9, 2008: Employer Of Man Accused In Officer's Death Faces Charges
September 27, 2006: Thousands Honor Slain Officer At Memorial
September 25, 2006: Bond Denied For Man Accused Of Killing Police Officer
September 22, 2006: Gary Pucket Concert To Benefit Family Of Slain Officer
September 22, 2006: Suspect Charged In Officer's Killing
September 21, 2006: Suspect In Back Seat Shoots, Kills Officer

May 18, 2008

Reports on detained immigrants' care misleading

Reports on detained immigrants' care misleading, U.S. official says
In Austin visit, assistant homeland security secretary touts recent improvements at centers such as one in Taylor.
By Juan Castillo


Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Homeland Security Department agency that oversees immigrant detentions has taken significant steps to improve its oversight and accountability, the agency's assistant secretary asserted Saturday in Austin as she disputed recent news reports detailing poor medical care and deaths at its facilities.

"Any death is absolutely regrettable, and so we want to make sure we're taking all the aggressive steps we can to improve" oversight, said Julie Myers, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Myers' comments followed her speech at the American Payroll Association's national meeting at the Austin Convention Center.

News reports by a number of media organizations recently detailed poor and possibly negligent medical care for immigrants held over the past five years in a vast network of jails which the government has built across the country, some in Texas. About 32,000 people are held in ICE custody in the facilities on a given day, awaiting deportation or a resolution in their immigration case. About 300,000 pass through the system each year. ICE says its detainee population has increased by more than 30 percent since 2004.

In a series last week, The Washington Post reported that 83 detainees have died in, or shortly after, custody during the past five years and that inadequate medical care might have contributed to 30 of those deaths. Reports have described a lack of transparency at the facilities and confusion surrounding the deaths.

Critics, including legal, civil rights and immigrant rights groups, charge that a ramping up of enforcement of federal immigration laws after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is straining federal agencies like ICE and their ability to keep up with an increasing numbers of detainees. Congress is considering a number of bills that seek improvements in detainee conditions.

Myers said the news reports were misleading because they overlooked procedures the agency had put in place to increase oversight and accountability, such as the recent hiring of an independent contractor to conduct compliance reviews at its jails. Previously, ICE's Office of Detention and Removal did the inspections.

Myers said ICE had not had a suicide in its facilities in the past 15 months and that deaths have decreased while the number of people in custody has grown significantly.

"Is there room for improvement? I think there absolutely is, but I think we've made substantial progress," she said.

Myers said the agency anticipates building more facilities for families and children, like the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, one of two in the country that houses family groups. Though she did not elaborate, she said ICE is also exploring how best to deal with immigrants in the future, steps that might include alternatives to detention if officials can be sure immigrants will show up for their court proceedings.

Congressional spending committees have urged federal immigration officials to exhaust other options, including homelike, nonpenal settings, before holding children and families in custody. Those directives have been at the heart of opposition to family detention by immigrant and civil rights advocates in Central Texas, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

Last year, the ACLU and the University of Texas Law School's immigration clinic sued the government, challenging the treatment of families. A settlement led to numerous improvements at the Hutto center and to the first-ever federal standards for treatment of immigrant women and children held at ICE facilities.; 445-3635

May 17, 2008

Human smuggling hits I-40, points beyond

Human smuggling hits I-40, points beyond
By Clint Brewer, Friday, May 16, 2008 12:53 am
Updated: Friday, May 16, 2008 12:53 am

The gray, Ford passenger van with dark windows, packed with passengers likely did not look suspicious to anyone else traveling on Interstate 40 through rural Dickson County — other than the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent that spotted it.

On May 5, ICE Agent Stephen McCormick, already on the interstate, notified officers of the 23rd Judicial Task Force of the van with Texas plates slowly making its way toward Music City, and, as evidence would prove later, other points of destination throughout the South.

The van was driven by a man named Jose Jasso-Cuevas, and this was not his first cross-country trip.

Cuevas is now somewhere in the federal prison system, charged with a violation of federal code for transporting illegal aliens, according to court documents. It is an act federal officials and others involved in combating the practice refer to colloquially as human smuggling.

It is the kind of crime that is becoming more and more prevalent in Nashville, as the city’s many interstate arteries have made Nashville somewhat of an easy destination.

“For good or for bad, we have a good interstate system,” Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said. “We are somewhat vulnerable to these types of situations because it’s easy on and easy off to get where you are going.”

McCormick’s affidavit and other paperwork in the federal prosecution of Cuevas state there were 18 passengers crammed into the non-descript van, which Cuevas told authorities he had driven to Tennessee on behalf of a “transport company” in Houston. It was not Cuevas’ first trip for that company or in this line of work.

He told authorities he had made three or four trips on behalf of the same company, and that each undocumented persons on board was to pay him $550 once they were delivered to places across the South — Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Apparently, the system for delivering the illegal immigrants was to call a telephone number when he arrived in various states to get the information about where to drop each passenger.

It would not have been Cuevas’ first time in South Carolina. He was convicted of the same federal crime in 2004 there that he is now charged with in Nashville. Court records show he was released with a sentence of time served.

Though Cuevas is only charged with crimes related to what authorities call human smuggling, Nashville has had its share of horror stories in the last year when it comes to the higher offense of human trafficking.

Human smuggling is a phrase that simply suggests transportation of undocumented aliens across U.S. borders. According to officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking involves the victimization of a person by either forced sex or labor.

Federal authorities recently secured successful verdicts and sentences against a prostitution ring using Latin American women and serving almost exclusively Mexican johns. The collection of brothels run mostly out of Nashville apartments in areas like Madison and Nolensville Road were tied to a similar operation in Memphis and prosecuted by federal authorities there. Women in both operations were forced to work as a prostitutes, servicing as many as 10 men a day for as little as $30 per man.

There is no evidence that any of Cuevas’ passengers were going to meet a similar fate, but Hall references human trafficking cases reported last year by The City Paper when he talks about the factor that access to three major interstates in Nashville has on illegal immigration.

Hall’s office is in charge of the federal 287(g) program, an offshoot of federal immigration enforcement allowing his officers to screen criminal suspects in Davidson County jails to determine their immigration status. He said both he and his staff hear “anecdotally” that smuggling operations do bring quite a few people to Nashville.

“We’ve heard about that a lot in the last year or so,” Hall said of the smuggling pipeline. “It’s the same as the drug problem, the gun problem and some may remember the prostitution problem.”

Federal authorities offer very little information when it comes to their activities on Nashville’s interstates. ICE Spokesperson Temple Black in New Orleans simply did not answer the question when asked if federal agents were on the interstate looking for human smuggling.

A second ICE agent, Jonathan Hendrix, is the agent who actually signed the affidavit in the Cuevas case describing the actions of agent McCormick. Hendrix states in the document his job includes the “investigation of cases involving the illegal transportation of aliens.”

“In general, the way it works across the country if a sheriff’s deputy or police officer sees something suspicious on the road then they contact the local agents,” Black said. “Human smuggling and human trafficking are going on all over the country. We try to do the best we can.”

May 16, 2008

Houston banker admits to ID theft

May 16, 2008
Houston banker admits to ID theft

HOUSTON - A Houston banker who sold personal account information as part of an identity theft ring must serve three years in federal prison.

Prosecutors on Thursday announced the sentencing of 34-year-old former Amegy Bank senior banker Lamont Wallace.

Wallace pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

A judge in Houston sentenced a 34-year-old co-defendant, Ifeyhewen Badidi, to nearly five years in prison. The illegal immigrant from Liberia pleaded guilty to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft and is expected to be deported upon his release from prison. Investigators froze $161,000 of unlawfully transferred funds before the money could be withdrawn.

Texas group sues to stop construction of border fence

May 16, 2008, 11:35PM
Texas group sues to stop construction of border fence

Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — A drive by the Bush administration to build 70 miles of fencing along the Texas-Mexico border before leaving office could be sidetracked by a lawsuit filed by 19 border communities on Friday.

The Texas Border Coalition, citing what it called lawless conduct by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, asked a U.S. District Court judge here to force the federal government to halt construction of the barrier and land acquisition.

The lawsuit accused Chertoff and others of failing to notify landowners of their rights; failing to negotiate a reasonable price for access to their lands, and of exempting some wealthy owners from having the fence built across their properties.

Chertoff "has gone too far in his zeal to build this feel-good, yet ineffective Great Wall of Texas," said Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster, the chairman of the border coalition, which represents cities from Brownsville to El Paso.

Brownsville Mayor Patricio M. Ahumada Jr. charged that federal officials "are determined to build a wall to appease mid-America."

Peter Schey, lead counsel in the case and executive director of the Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, said Friday's lawsuit would be followed within days by a request for a temporary restraining order to block land seizures and fence construction.

The case is handled by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, named to the federal bench by President Bush in 2001.

The Bush administration is pressing to complete construction of 670 miles of physical barriers and high-tech virtual fencing along the 1,972-mile U.S.-Mexico border. But the legal wrangling could delay construction of the fence in Texas, pushing decisions on completion of the barriers into next year when a new president and a new Congress will take office.

Laura Keehner, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, called the lawsuit a delaying tactic and said construction will continue.

"There should be no uncertainty about our commitment to border security, and we've made no secret that fencing is a key part of our efforts at the border," Keehner said. "We're building 670 miles of fencing by the end of this year and are well on our way to meeting this goal."

The lawsuit was designed to force federal officials to restart a protracted survey process as a first step to federal purchase.

Chertoff has run "roughshod over the rights of property owners to build a border wall on a foundation of lawlessness," Schey said. "We hope that we are able to bring this lawless conduct to build this wall into conformity with federal statutes and the United States Constitution."

Federal officials intimidated some landowners along the border by sending Homeland Security officials and agents of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Border Patrol to try to arrange access to survey their properties, Schey contended.

The suit also noted that fence construction would bypass the River Bend Resort and golf course, in Brownsville, and border lands owned by Dallas billionaire Ray Hunt and his relatives.

Keehner, Chertoff's spokesman, rejected the lawsuit's allegations.

"We've nearly bent over backward to work with landowners," she said in a statement.

Keehner noted that yearlong discussions had taken place with landowners and state and local officials "about the placement of fencing."

Federal officials, she said, contacted more than 600 landowners, held dozens of town hall meetings and mailed hundreds of letters to property owners "requesting access to private property so that we could make operational and environmental assessments of the area prior to making any decisions."

Border fence construction has become increasingly contentious in Texas, with landowners' resistance forcing federal authorities to file lawsuits against nearly 100 owners in four states in an effort to gain court-ordered access to the land.

A family from Los Ebanos, Texas, awaits a hearing on July 7 before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on its attempt to block access by federal authorities.

The Texas officials' legal challenge is the latest high-profile effort to prevent construction of the fence.

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing a request by environmentalists and members of Congress to hear a case challenging Chertoff's constitutional authority to waive compliance with three dozen federal laws in order to speed construction of the barriers.

Texas: Immigration checks, hurricanes don't mix

Texas: Immigration checks, hurricanes don't mix

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — Federal border agents say they will search for illegal immigrants at inland Texas checkpoints even during a hurricane evacuation, a plan state and local officials say could lead to disastrous delays and discourage some people from getting out.

Texas and federal officials have argued about the checkpoints roughly 75 miles from the border for years, but emergency managers only recently learned that the Border Patrol also plans to check the immigration status of people boarding buses at evacuation hubs in the Rio Grande Valley.

State and local officials are concerned not only about delays, but that the checkpoints could deter illegal immigrants from fleeing dangerous conditions.

"That puts me in a dilemma because those people will stay behind in a potential surge zone," said Johnny Cavazos, emergency management coordinator for Cameron County, a coastal county on the U.S.-Mexico border.

"These people live in the most fragile of homes. I'm going to have a search and rescue problem to deal with," he said, adding that federal and local officials need to "come up with a much better plan."

The screenings at evacuation hubs are intended to prevent bottlenecks at the inland checkpoints, said Dan Doty, a Rio Grande Valley spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol.

"Our local policy is checkpoints will not close, we will check for immigration status," Doty said. "We have to do our jobs."

Gov. Rick Perry wants the Border Patrol to share the state's priority of putting public safety first during an emergency, said spokeswoman Krista Piferrer.

"If there is any significant delay in having people move from harm's way, then that could run the risk of endangering lives," she said.

Closer to the Louisiana line, most of the more than 100 deaths from 2005's Hurricane Rita were related to the disastrous evacuation where cars were jammed for days on highways leading from the Gulf Coast, perishing from heat exposure or accidents. Only a dozen died in the actual storm.

More than 1 million people live in Cameron County and its inland neighbor Hidalgo County. Hurricane Allen, a Category 3 storm, struck just north of the coastal city of Brownsville in 1980 with sustained winds of 115 mph.

"We, emergency management, are in essence shepherding the people to safety — that is what we're telling them," Cavazos said. "My job is to save lives, not to ask for documentation."

May 15, 2008

FRED HAYES: Public education and illegal immigration

May 15, 2008 09:13 am

FRED HAYES: Public education and illegal immigration

By Fred Hayes

The Texas Constitution states: “… it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

The 1982 United States Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe, stated, “… children of illegal immigrants have little control over their place of residence and that denying the children in question a proper education would likely contribute to the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime.”

Why then, is this an issue that I am writing about in 2008, since the law was written in 1877, and the court reached its decision in 1982? The simple answer is because it is still an issue for most of us. In fact, it is more an issue now than it has ever been.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, border patrol has become a topic to which most of us pay attention. We are concerned that our borders are not secured, that terrorists may bring “dirty bombs” into our communities and destroy our way of life. We see other countries with open borders that experience violence and troubles. It is reiterated by our governmental leaders that one way to increase safety and security is to do a better job of controlling the border.

Many people are also concerned that some of those who come across the border are taking jobs from able-bodied, legal citizens. As our economy vacillates between a recession and limited economic growth, we know that employment is mandatory for anyone who wants to maintain a middle-class way of life. If illegal immigrants are in this country taking jobs from legal citizens, we are adamant that we will not tolerate it.

Athens was recently in the national spotlight in part because of illegal immigration. The national media and many people throughout the country had their opinions about our community set before they knew all of the facts. According to many of the e-mails I received from people all over the United States, the administration of this school district was soft on illegal immigration and did not hold true to the foundational beliefs of the founding fathers.

One of the e-mails that I was most amused with came from a person from somewhere outside of the East Texas area. The person stated, “… you do nothing about the hoards of illegal aliens streaming across the border and putting children in our schools, they are breaking our laws. If you are in the United States illegally, the punishment is DEPORTATION.”

This was amusing to me because deportation and border patrol do not fall under the realm of my responsibilities. My job is the education of children and according to the United States Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment: “No state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.”

I must enroll and educate every student who enters the doors of our schools. I received numerous e-mails and phone calls that assumed that I have much more authority than I do, so it seems appropriate to discuss the role of public education, as it relates to illegal immigration.

The public school systems in Texas fall under the law as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe. It is our responsibility to educate the children who come into our schools. Illegal immigration and the patrol of our borders fall under the authority of the United States Government.

If there are individuals who believe more should be done to patrol our borders, and to limit the influx of illegal immigrants, they should contact their governmental representatives and vote for those candidates who will work to solve this problem.

It is my opinion that illegal immigration should be stopped by the federal government at the border and other points of entry. However, once here, what does the country gain by denying school-aged illegal immigrants a public education? Denying illegal immigrant children a public education will cause more burdens for our community. Rather than encouraging them to learn, develop job-skills and eventually become productive, working taxpayers, these individuals more likely will grow dependent on governmental social services.

I have never known this great country to punish innocent children. It seems inappropriate that children should suffer for the illegal actions of their parents.

Dr. Fred Hayes is superintendent of the Athens Independent School District.

May 14, 2008

Family members charged in longtime marriage fraud ring

09:48 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 14, 2008
By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

Three generations of an extended North Texas family are accused of running an elaborate marriage fraud ring that helped illegal immigrants from Brazil and Mexico remain in the country by marrying U.S. citizens for a fee of up to $12,000.

Although some of the marriages date back to the 1970s, the investigation began in 2004 when someone tipped authorities to the scam, officials say. They did not estimate how many couples were married and divorced by the group, based in Fort Worth.

"That's still under investigation," said Carl Rusnok, a Dallas spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is leading the investigation. "But after more than 30 years of organizing fraud marriages, it's a very significant case."

One co-defendant, 34-year-old Diana De Leon, is accused of walking down the aisle two dozen times and stating on immigration forms that she had never been married, according to a 29-count indictment announced Tuesday.

Sixteen people, the youngest of whom is 25, are charged in the indictment, which names 70-year-old Maria Refugia Camarillo as the alleged ringleader. Born on the Fourth of July in 1937, the U.S. citizen served as the contact for dozens of illegal immigrants seeking fraudulent marriages, prosecutors say.

Known as "Cuca," Mrs. Camarillo ran the operation out of her house in the 2800 block of South Burchill Road in Fort Worth, federal authorities say. The house is valued at $39,000, according to county records.

Family members could not be reached by phone Tuesday at the house, which the government is attempting to seize.

Charges in the case include conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with immigration documents, fraud and misuse of visas, Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft. If convicted, the defendants face punishments ranging from two to 10 years in federal prison for each of the charges, as well as a $250,000 fine.

Federal agents arrested 10 suspects Tuesday in addition to Mrs. Camarillo and Ms. De Leon. They are to be arraigned Monday in Dallas before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Sanderson.

Four alleged co-conspirators are still at large.

None of the defendants had attorneys listed on the court docket Tuesday.

In September, a government informant met with Mrs. Camarillo, who promised to arrange a marriage "within days" of receiving half the $12,000 fee.

She gave the informant a business card bearing the name of her 44-year-old son, co-defendant Oscar Hernandez, who she said "could provide any documentation he needed to complete his immigration forms," according to the indictment.

Newlyweds, some of whom used fake identities, usually opted for ceremonies performed by justices of the peace. After the bogus ceremony, the indictment says, the couples "had no intention of residing together" as husband and wife.

In lieu of a honeymoon, the couples faked government forms and rehearsed what to say at immigration hearings and interviews, prosecutors say.

Once the marriage was on file with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, the network submitted altered divorce decrees in Dallas and Tarrant counties, officials said.

Satisfied customers got $200 for referring new illegal immigrants to the network, prosecutors allege.

The four-year investigation is an effort of the immigration agency's Document and Benefit Fraud Task Forces, created two years ago to shore up vulnerabilities in the nation's immigration system.

Last week, in a similar operation in Florida, more than 80 people were arrested in a marriage fraud investigation dubbed "Operation Knot So Fast." Officials found fake wedding cakes and a stockpile of wedding dresses, which were used to fake pictures submitted as part of immigration documentation.

Authorities say marriage fraud rings can compromise national security because U.S. citizens often aren't fully aware of the backgrounds of the foreign citizens they are paid to help bring into the country.

"The fraud allows aliens to bypass the normal immigration procedure to obtain permanent residency," said Richard Roper, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas. "It's not fair to the millions of aliens who are waiting patiently to process into our country legally."

May 13, 2008

Immigrants Less Integrated than a Century Ago

Immigrants Less Integrated than a Century Ago
Cox News Service
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

WASHINGTON — Current immigrants — especially Mexicans — are less assimilated than those 100 years ago, a study to be released Tuesday found.

The study uses Census data going back more than a century to measure assimilation through various indicators such as English-learning, employment, home ownership, rates of marriage to native-born people, child bearing, naturalization, educational attainment, military service and many others.

Based on these factors, the study by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank in New York, creates an assimilation index ranging from 1 to 100, with 100 being complete assimilation.

Currently, immigrants collectively have an assimilation index of 28, compared to an index of more than 50 in 1900. The study also separates economic, cultural and civic integration levels.

The study's author, however, said that the data also indicates that the pace of assimilation over the past 25 years is higher than a century ago, which means immigrants are catching up to previous levels.

"The nation's capacity to integrate new immigrants is strong," said Jacob Vigdor, an associate professor of Public Policy Studies and Economics at Duke University.

But the progress "is not present for all groups and in particular, it's not present among some of the Latin American immigrants that are at the heart of the immigration debate these days," he added.

In Atlanta, the assimilation index is 22, lower than the national average, according to the study. However, immigrants in the area had a high rate of economic assimilation, 90.

In Austin, the assimilation index is 22, lower than the national average, according to the study. However, immigrants in the area had a high rate of economic assimilation, 78.

In West Palm Beach, Fla., the assimilation index is 29, slightly higher than the national average, according to the study. However, immigrants in the area had a high rate of economic assimilation, 91.

In the Dayton-Springfield area, the assimilation index is 52, much higher than the national average, according to the study. In addition, the economic assimilation rate is 100.

In Waco, Texas, the assimilation index is 14, far below the national average, according to the study. In addition, the economic index rate is 63.

For Mexicans, the assimilation rate is 13, according to the index. By comparison, Canadians have an assimilation index of 53 and Germans have an index of 87, the highest.

Vigdor said there could be many reasons why Mexicans have lower rates of assimilation, including that they are closer to their home country, they have more chances to speak Spanish, and they mostly come for economic reasons as opposed to immigrants who are fleeing dangerous regimes and fear going back. For example, Vietnamese immigrants had a strong incentive to accept the United States as their homeland, he said.

In addition, many Mexican immigrants are in the United States illegally and therefore are unable to meet many of the criteria for assimilation.

"If you are illegal, you can't naturalize and there are lots of jobs that you can not get," Vigdor said.

The study also found that Mexican immigrants brought to the United States as small children have lower rates of assimilation than other groups. This is largely because of a higher level of "negative outcomes" such as teen pregnancy and incarceration, the study says.

Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center, a non-partisan research group in Washington, said that the index was flawed as a measure of assimilation.

"Assimilation is a process that takes place over time and over generations. They're not measuring that," he said.

In addition, Passel said that the snapshot of immigrant assimilation is weighed heavily toward new immigrants who are clearly going to be less integrated into the larger society. He added that the study fails to take into account that 30 percent of current immigrants are in the United States illegally, which is vastly different from a century ago.

The study also found:

— Immigrants from developed countries are not necessarily more assimilated. Immigrants born in Korea, which the World Bank classifies as a high income country, have a lower level of assimilation than immigrants from Cuba or the Philippines, which are classified as low income countries.

— San Diego has the highest assimilation rate among the 10 cities with the largest immigrant populations. New York City is second.

On the Web:

Manhattan Institute study:

May 12, 2008

More areas see Hispanic majorities

May 12, 2008
More areas see Hispanic majorities
By Enrique Rangel
Globe-News Austin Bureau

Teresa Jasso's family came to Crosbyton decades ago.

Changing Demographics
In 11 rural West Texas counties, Hispanics now make up the majority. As the U.S. Census Bureau reported last year, that number is expected to get even larger because Texas leads the nation in population growth.

County Hispanic population Anglo population

Bailey 3,387 2,970

Castro 3,886 3,170

Cochran 1,576 1,406

Crosby 3,175 2,946

Dawson 7,029 5,641

Deaf Smith 11,599 6,660

Floyd 3,347 3,257

Hale 17,532 16,526

Moore 10,638 9,320

Parmer 5,383 3,947

Yoakum 3,750 3,447

When she was a little girl her father, a migrant worker, would often take the family out of the area to work on the fields. Jasso married in the early 1970's, and she and her husband, Gilbert, from nearby Ralls, settled in Crosbyton.
Now, the couple's four children are grown.

For the past five years, the family has owned and operated Teresa's Cocina, a popular Mexican restaurant on Main Street. Almost daily local farmers and elected officials meet there for an early breakfast.

Among them are Rep. Joe Heflin, D-Crosbyton, who enjoys a meal and talks about just about everything, mainly farming issues and politics.

"We decided to stay and so did our children," Jasso said. "Only one lives in Lubbock."

For the average West Texan, the Jasso family's story might be uneventful. But for demographers it is a unique case study.

The Jassos exemplify the rapidly changing demographics in rural West Texas. While 33 rural counties in the Panhandle/South Plains region lost population during the first six years of this decade, in places like Crosby County, the Hispanic population is growing.

It's now the majority group.

Crosby County lost 7.4 percent of its population during the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet, Hispanics became the largest ethnic group in the county. They now narrowly outnumber Anglos, 3,175 to 2,946.

"This region is changing before our eyes," said Heflin, whose House District 85 includes the largest percentage of Spanish-surnamed residents.

"Many people have left ... so if it wasn't for Hispanics, many more West Texas communities would be like ghost towns."

It is the same story in Castro County.

From 2000 to 2006, the county lost 10.1 percent of its population. And though Hispanics slightly outnumbered Anglos in 2000, now they are the dominant group.

There were 3,886 Hispanics in the county, compared with 3,170 Anglos according to the 2006 Census estimate.

"When I moved here 30 years ago, we represented about 30 or no more than 35 percent of the population," said Castro County Commissioner Larry Gonzales. "But in 25 years or less we became the majority."

Like Jasso in Crosby County, Gonzales decided to settle down in Castro County to raise his family.

Gonzales attributes the Hispanic population growth in other counties to the fact that entire families have stayed while young Anglos have left for greener pastures.

Equally important, the dairy industry has fueled the growth of the Hispanic population in Castro and neighboring counties for the last 10 years, Gonzales noted.

"The dairies are attracting a lot of 'Mexicanos,' " Gonzales said. "And though a lot of them are legal immigrants, there are also some who are here illegally."

Some unhappy

However, Gonzales and other officials wish the dairy industry would pay higher wages.

Various county offices and other business groups wooing the industry to the Panhandle and the South Plains say that on average dairy worker earns about $12 an hour.

Most workers are expected to work overtime because the cows need constant attention.

Still, even working extra hours, the most an average dairy worker can make is $30,000 a year. That's not enough to support a family of four in the Panhandle, according to a recent study by the Austin-based think-tank Center for Public Policy Priorities.

The study concluded that a family of four needs to have an income of at least $33,757 to make it in the Amarillo Metropolitan Area. That means the spouse of a dairy worker also has to work, even part-time, to make ends meet.

Lubbock County Commissioner Ysidro Gutierrez said that although he was born and has lived in Lubbock all of his life, he knows rural West Texas rather well. For that reason, he recommends young Hispanics in small towns and ranches to leave.

"I don't see a lot of change, at least for the next five years," Gutierrez said. "I hope that young Hispanics move out of the rural areas. They have more chances of getting a better paying job in urban areas."

Others like Jesse Romero, who lobbies the Texas Legislature for bilingual education funding, said funding for such programs has remained stagnant for more than two decades, while the number of Hispanic immigrant children in West Texas grows at a faster pace than the general student population.

"Historically, bilingual education was just a South Texas issue, from San Antonio down," Romero said. "But not anymore. There is a great need for bilingual ed in the Panhandle and in the Lubbock area, and it's more acute in rural areas because they just don't have the resources."

School districts, such as those in Bovina and Dumas, have long struggled to hire bilingual teachers. Their efforts often are unsuccessful because few college graduates are interested in working in rural areas, school superintendents say.

Bailey County Commissioner Juan Chavez hopes Hispanics' transition from minority to majority group is tension-free, particularly when trying to get political representation.

"I still remember the 1960s and '70s and even the '80s when there was too much resistance from the Anglos," Chavez said. "It was a major struggle."

But some like Heflin said they hope those days are long over.

In Crosbyton, for example, this year's man and woman of the year were Hispanic, he said.

"Let's face it, the face of Texas of all Texas is changing and evolving and that is true, too, in rural West Texas," Heflin added. "And I hope we made some progress during the past 30 or 35 years and move forward."

May 9, 2008

Congressman tells Legislature to back off immigration

Congressman tells Legislature to back off immigration

May 9, 2008 - 9:42PM
James Osborne

McALLEN - U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar told the Texas Legislature to stay away from enacting immigration reform.

"This is a federal matter," said Cuellar, D-Laredo. "If the state gets involved you're liable to have a patchwork of laws."

The congressman made his comments Friday to a roomful of Texas businesspeople at the McAllen Convention Center during a forum on the effects increasing immigration enforcement have on the business sector.

During the last legislative session, a Republican-led coalition pushed for the creation of a system of fines and other punitive measures for Texas businesses caught hiring illegal immigrants, as well as other anti-immigration measures.

The proposal never made it to the assembly for a vote, but the effort will be renewed when the Legislature convenes in January, said state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, who was Friday's meeting.

"(The federal government) has done nothing about illegal immigration, and as a state representative my oath says I will protect the Constitution and the laws of the state of Texas," he said. "We're playing this a lot smarter this time."

Berman said "almost every Republican" is expected to support the legislation.

Even opponents admit they have a tough fight ahead of them, though.

"We haven't had anything done (at the federal level) the last two years, so the pressure will be increased," said Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business and a former Republican state representative for Dallas.

Laws targeting businesses that hire illegal immigrants already have passed in Arizona, Oklahoma and other states.

According to Texas Employers for Immigration Reform, a pro-business and pro-immigrant group, the industries that would be most affected by tougher immigration enforcement are farming, construction and the service industry.

"These laws could be very harmful to Texas businesses," Hammond said. "It's shortsighted and we'll likely end up with a lot of lawsuits being filed."

James Osborne covers McAllen and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4428.

May 8, 2008

Mexico to extradite man accused of killing college student

Mexico to extradite man accused of killing college student
The Associated Press 5/7/08

DALLAS -- Mexico has agreed to extradite a man accused of killing a Dallas-area college student whose burned body was found behind a suburban office complex, officials said.

Ernesto Reyes of Denton will not face the death penalty as a condition of his extradition from Mexico, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office said in Wednesday's editions of The Dallas Morning News. He will probably be in Dallas by the end of the month, officials said.

Melanie Goodwin, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of North Texas, suffered several blunt-force injuries. The Arlington teenager's body was set on fire and found behind an office building in Carrollton in September.

Reyes was arrested by U.S. marshals in October as he left a relative's home about 200 miles north of Mexico City. Since his indictment on a capital murder charge, the U.S. Department of Justice has been working with Mexican officials on an extradition agreement.

A friend of Reyes was charged with tampering with evidence in the case.

Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?