August 31, 2008

Employers not required to report illegal workers

By ANABELLE GARAY / Associated Press

Did a suburban Dallas employer go too far when it told police about a job applicant who presented what turned out to be a counterfeit social security card?

Relatives and advocates for Maria Martinez say that's what happened when she was arrested, jailed and deported as an illegal immigrant after applying for a hospital cafeteria job.

But a spokeswoman for Trinity Medical Center in Carrollton contends the hospital was simply following policy and has a responsibility to report criminal activity, including possible identity theft, to the proper authorities.

During yet another year marked by several high profile immigration raids targeting both undocumented workers and the companies who hire them, the case raises questions about what employers can or should do if they discover an applicant is not authorized to work legally in the U.S.

Martinez, a single mother of a 3-year-old son and a teenage daughter, showed the hospital's cafeteria director a social security card when applying for a job there in July and also included the card's number on her application, according to police reports. About a week later, however, a background check revealed the number had been issued to a person who had since died.

The hospital's personnel director notified Carrollton police of the discrepancy. Detectives also were informed that Martinez had an appointment the next day at the hospital's human resources office, according to documents filed in the case.

Police were waiting at the hospital and arrested Martinez on a charge of tampering with a government record.

According to police, Martinez acknowledged buying the social security card for $110 at a Wal-Mart. She also had a second social security card and two counterfeit cards stating she was a legal permanent resident.

Martinez initially planned to fight the state charge but after being held in jail for nearly three weeks, she agreed to be deported to Mexico in August. Her son later joined her in Mexico.

"She told me to please forgive her. She told me she wasn't strong enough to fight," said Martinez' 19-year-old daughter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she also is in the U.S. illegally.

What makes Martinez' case stand out is that employers aren't required to report someone suspected of a crime, attorneys say. They also aren't mandated to report a worker or applicant suspected of being in the U.S. illegally, say immigration attorneys and enforcement officials.

"For an employer to go ahead and take it upon themselves ... to report that is unusual," said immigration attorney Kathleen Walker. "There's no obligation on my part to go call law enforcement."

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Carl Rusnok agreed, saying employers and local police typically don't have the training needed to determine whether someone is in the country illegally.

Carrollton's mayor has emphasized that one of his priorities is to rid the city of illegal immigrants. In the neighboring suburb of Farmers Branch, city officials have unsuccessfully tried to prohibit landlords from renting houses and apartments to tenants who cannot prove they are in the U.S. legally.

But hospital spokeswoman Susan Watson said the decision to report Martinez had nothing to do with the immigration debate swirling in suburban Dallas. The hospital reported what it considered a crime, said Watson.

"Regardless of whether they were an illegal alien, legal immigrant or an American citizen, it still wouldn't have mattered, they still would have been reported," she said.

Watson said it was the first time in at least two years that the hospital reported a possible crime involving a worker or applicant to police. But officials are always on alert because many employees have access to patients' medical records and other private information, she added.

Immigration attorneys and others, however, are concerned that many employers have become overly cautious, to the point that they may be bending or breaking the law, as well.

Laws and policies prohibit employers from scrutinizing a job applicant's identity or work eligibility before they are hired, said Walker, an El Paso lawyer and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

"When people are being prescreened before a decision to hire is being made, then you could have exposure to discrimination charges," she said.

Recent workplace raids around the country have increasingly led to prosecuting unauthorized workers for identity theft and use of someone else's social security number. But those have resulted from federal investigations by ICE agents into workers at specific companies, not calls from an employer to local police.

Still, those raids have left employers edgy, said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute at NYU School of Law.

"I think employers are beginning to feel the pinch and in many cases I think they are trying not only to be sort of extra cautious but ... to be pre-emptive," said Chishti. "What's troubling is that employers have taken it upon themselves the job of ascertaining whether a crime has been committed."

August 30, 2008

New illegal immigrant rental ban in Farmers Branch set to kick in

Aug. 30, 2008


DALLAS — A federal judge has finalized his ruling that a Farmers Branch ordinance forbidding illegal immigrants from renting apartments in the city is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay ruled that only the federal government has the authority to regulate immigration. But Farmers Branch’s fight against illegal immigration and court battles launched by the city’s opponents have not ended.

Michael Jung, an attorney for Farmers Branch, said the city will implement a new version of the rental ban Sept. 13. Jung will update the council on the case in a closed session Tuesday.

Believing the rental ban would be struck down in court, the City Council voted in January for a new version of the ban to be implemented 15 days after Lindsay’s final ruling.

The council has touted the new rental ban as a constitutional ordinance that will stand up in court. Its authors say it would have the federal government determine people’s citizenship or legal immigration status before they are allowed to rent an apartment in the city.

Bill Brewer, a Dallas attorney representing apartment owners opposed to the rental ban, said he will sue again if the city tries to implement the new ordinance.

Marisol Perez, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which fought the rental ban in court, declined to say Friday whether her organization will sue.

"We certainly are looking at the new ordinance, and we take the position that the new ordinance is another attempt by the city to regulate in an area of immigration, an area that is clearly only given to the federal government," she said.

Patrick McGee, 817-548-5476

We the People - We must set aside partisan bickering

I find all this "gotcha" by the press and finger-pointing by the presidential candidates about who is richest irrelevant to my concerns.

Instead of addressing our real problems, the candidates engage in a game of tit-for-tat and Congress does as little as possible and goes on another vacation.

This country is in serious trouble and hitting the skids more every day. We haven't a friend in the world except perhaps Great Britain, and it is in bad shape, too. We owe billions of borrowed money to our enemies. If they ever decide to call in their notes, we will collapse.

Our enemies control the oil market while Congress dithers and plays politics. Congress also refuses to take control of the immigration crisis for fear of losing the resident Latino vote. Most of the immigrants who come from south of the border are here for the freebies, not to become good U.S. citizens.

I talked to a woman recently who is here with a green card. I asked her why she didn't apply for citizenship. She was frank.

She said: "I don't want to be a citizen unless I could keep my other citizenship, too. But my cousin says I should become a citizen so that I can get more Social Security when I retire, so I may apply when I am about 60."

Our own citizens care only for the party and "what's in it for me," so why should newcomers be any different?

Until we all stop playing party politics and try to get what is best for the country, the United States I once knew is gone.

So what is important? We had better decide before it is too late.

Martha Williams
San Angelo

The Standard-Times

Migrant Minds: The border is no boundary for some Mexican students

August 30, 2008 - 11:06PM
Jeremy Roebuck

Adrianna Gomez wakes her 14-year-old son before dawn every morning, lays out his coat and tie and drives him across an international boundary just to go to school.

With a full day of classes at Pharr's Oratory Academy followed by soccer and tennis afterward, he often won't return to his spacious Reynosa home until nearly 12 hours later.

Angelita Martinez Morales also hoped her children could attend Rio Grande Valley schools. U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested her Aug. 10 as she guided them across the river near Pharr.

She later told a federal magistrate judge she had to get her children - all U.S. citizens - back into the country before the start of the school year.

The two women may be divided by economic status, but ultimately both want the same thing for their children: the best educational opportunities they can provide.

Like hundreds of other families just south of the U.S.-Mexico border, they adjust their schedules, idle in bridge traffic every morning and sometimes break the law - all to send their children to U.S. schools.

"It's a sacrifice," said Gomez, 36, in Spanish. "But the river is inconsequential. It's just a problem of geography."

Some more affluent families - like Gomez's - attend legally by paying tuition to private schools or even buying homes to establish residency in public school districts. Her son, Ernesto, has his student visas in order and has been preparing to enter U.S. schools since his first English classes in kindergarten.

Plenty of others, though, ignore the rules. They provide fake addresses to enroll at public schools or - like Martinez - enter the country illegally in hopes of staying the whole school year.

While cities in the interior United States have only begun to seriously address this increasing immigrant population at their schools, this daily migration has been a way of life in the Valley for decades.

"In so many families, the community is not divided by a border like the land," said Elaine Hampton, a University of Texas-El Paso professor who has studied educational systems on both sides of the border. "It makes it hard to peg exactly where you live. What constitutes a permanent address?"


Nobody knows exactly how many Mexican residents attend schools in the Valley, but some districts estimate they make up as much as 10 percent of their total enrollment.

A 1982 federal court ruling bars public schools from inquiring into the legal residency of students, but those enrolling must prove they live within the district - usually by providing a utility bill.

Some parents are so eager to have their children attend school here they will send them to live with an aunt or grandparent during the week and pick them up to spend their weekends in Mexico.

Others, however, "borrow" the addresses of relatives and friends to enroll their students even though the Mexican family never actually lived there.

"If they come and register with an address that's in the district, we can't deny them," McAllen schools spokesman Mark May said.

But the signs of illegal enrollment are everywhere.

Minivans with Mexican plates stack the pick-up and drop-off lines at schools in Hidalgo, La Joya and Brownsville.

Each day, students in school uniforms groggily amble away from the Roma-Miguel Alemán international bridge.

In the predawn fog, teenagers loaded down with book bags avoid eye contact with passersby because of past problems they have had with their district residency.

But 16-year-old Alemania was eager to explain why she risks the morning commute.

"My parents thought this was a better option," she said.


Alemania, who spoke on the condition that she not be fully identified, attended public schools in Miguel Alemán, Tamps., until three years ago.

Although she says she preferred her friends in Mexico, she recognizes that the schools in Roma have better resources such as high-tech computer labs, extracurricular activities and English-language training.

The proliferation of maquiladoras in many Mexican border towns in the past decade has brought dozens of families to cities like Reynosa and Matamoros looking for work, but the region's public school system has not kept up with the growth.

Students in Mexican schools attend half-days in cinderblock buildings and go to class in shifts because of school overcrowding.

Parents must pay for uniforms, bus fare and supplies, and in some cases are expected to supplement the school's operating budget.

And a lack of secondary schools prompts many students to drop out after the elementary level. Only 66 percent of 15-year-olds south of the border attend classes on a daily basis, according to a 2003 Mexican government survey.

Fifteen-year-old Joseph has spent time in classrooms on both sides of the river. But as he crossed the Roma-Miguel Alemán bridge last week, he said there is no doubt where he would rather attend.

"Living in Roma is boring," he said. "But the education is much better."


While Alemania and Joseph both know they are breaking the law, small districts like Roma don't always look at students like them as a problem.

They are often more eager to learn and their parents are more involved because of the effort their families have undertaken to secure their education, district spokesman Ricardo Perez said.

"It's not like they're dumping their kids over here," he said. "They're actively seeking out a better education."

And the higher the school's enrollment, the more state and federal money the district receives.

But larger, more affluent districts like the McAllen school system can't afford to allow students who live outside the district to attend its campuses, said John Wilde, director of student support services for the district.

In addition to straining school resources, students with limited English speaking abilities routinely score lower on standardized tests.

"It's a significant issue," he said. "Imagine if you're paying taxes on a half-million-dollar home because you want your child to go to Garcia Elementary, and then we have to transfer you to another school because Garcia's too crowded.

"It's not fair that there may be people that don't live in the district taking your child's spot."

Wilde's office investigates dozens of cases each year of students suspected of lying on their enrollment papers.

Using returned mail, reports from other parents and red flags from campus administrators, his employees drop by the listed addresses in the early morning hours to see who really lives where they say they do.

Lying on a public document is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, but the district rarely seeks prosecution against the parents. Expulsion is a more likely response.

A week into this school year, Wilde has already received 30 to 40 red-flag reports that the district plans to begin investigating in the coming weeks.


Angelita Martinez, the mother arrested for bringing her children across the river, never even got that far. A federal judge sentenced her to 10 days of confinement in a federal detention center. The fate of her children - all of whom she said were U.S. citizens - remains unknown.

Adrianna Gomez, meanwhile, hopes to send her younger children to Oratory's school in Pharr once they reach seventh grade.

She says she has already seen the payoff for her family's sacrifices in her teenage son, Ernesto.

A confident 14-year-old who can speak eloquently in Spanish and English, he hopes to go to Yale University and become a lawyer after graduation.

"You can see a big difference between my friends here and over there," he said. "The opportunities over here are just greater."

Jeremy Roebuck covers courts and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4437.ok

August 29, 2008

8-month-old scalded in boiling water

Aug. 29, 2008

The Associated Press

BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- A 32-year-old mother is charged with injury to a child after allegedly scalding her 8-month-old infant with boiling water.

Cpl. Alonso Najera said Friday morning that Margarita Cuellar Alvarado is in the Cameron County Jail on a $75,000 bond.

The Brownsville Herald reports the baby is being treated at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Brownsville Police spokesman Jimmy Manrrique (man-REE'-keh) said Alvarado, an undocumented immigrant, was arrested on Wednesday after she took her baby to the hospital.

He said authorities determined the child's injuries did not match Alvarado's story. Police believe she waited more than a day before taking the wounded infant for medical attention.

If she is convicted of the second-degree felony, Alvarado may face up to 20 years in prison.

Doughnut exec pleads guilty in immigration case

Aug. 29, 2008

DALLAS (AP) - The president of family-owned Shipley Do-Nuts has pleaded guilty to a federal charge in one of the latest crackdowns on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Lawrence W. Shipley III pleaded guilty Thursday in Houston to a misdemeanor charge of continuing to employ unauthorized workers and was placed on six months probation, officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

Shipley Do-Nuts - which includes Shipley Do-Nut Flour and Supply Co. and Shipley Properties - was expected to plead guilty next week to knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, ICE said. The company would forfeit $1.3 million and be placed on probation, ICE said.

The case is one of several brought recently against employers and managers who hire illegal immigrants. Since October 2007, ICE agents have made more then 1,000 criminal arrests - of workers and others- connected to worksite investigations. Out of those arrests, 116 involved company owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees.

Immigrant advocates have long criticized ICE, saying the agency too often targets undocumented workers while letting the employers who hire them go unscathed.

Border Patrol works on retaining agents

Posted: Aug 28, 2008 07:24 PM CDT

By ABC-7 Reporter/Anchor Marissa Monroy

EL PASO, Texas -- "Now hiring!" That's what the sign says in front of El Paso's Border Patrol headquarters.

The reality of working on the border has created an environment that not all agents get used to and for new hires that must work on the Mexican border, more than 10 percent end up leaving the agency.

President George Bush's target of 18,000 agents by the end of the year, double the number of agents from eight years ago. Here in El Paso, there are about 2500 agents that patrol the U.S.-Mexican border.

"For people that enter the Border Patrol, in the first two years, the attrition rate is about 11 percent," Border Patrol agent Joe Romero said. After two years it drops to three percent."

Officials say El Paso's numbers match national trends, and these rates are even a little high. But that doesn't mean they aren't offering incentives to retain agents. A border patrol agent's salary starts at more than $36,000 a year, and with overtime, agents can increase that number. After three years, that figure climbs to about $70,000 a year.

"We're having a high quality agent come out of the agency," Romero said.

The Government Accountability Office estimates that taxpayers pay $14,700 for each trained at the Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, N.M. During this time, agents are trained in immigration, nationality and anti-terrorism law. The 50-day training program is extended an additional 45 days if an officer does not know how to speak Spanish. The extra days are spent immersed in Spanish-language classes.

Officials are beginning to look outside of the Southwest for new recruits as well. More and more, the agency is holding job fairs in the Midwest and as far away as Hawaii.

For all new recruits, they are required to spend the first two years along the Mexican border. After the two-year probationary period, agents can apply to work along the Canadian border or in Washington D.C. But those jobs, officials say, can be very competitive.

Still Agent Romero says he doesn't regret sticking with the Border Patrol program.

"I guarantee there's something for everyone here."

Opinion: Drug-war patients: Don't make El Pasoans pay

El Paso Times Staff
Article Launched: 08/29/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

County taxpayers have every right to demand payment from ... somebody else ... when drug-war victims shot in Juárez are transferred to Thomason Hospital.

Hospital costs so far this year are at $2 million for medical care and security for some 30 drug-violence victims who crossed into El Paso over international bridges, according to Thomason spokesmen.

It's U.S. law that treatment be given to anyone showing up at a U.S. hospital in need of emergency treatment. And Thomason is the only Level 1 trauma center within 250 miles.

U.S. citizens, of course, have automatic access to the ports of entry, and their hospital bills are to be taken care of as are those of all U.S. citizens.

But there's a question about who pays when the U.S. government allows a non-U.S. citizen to enter the country, and that patient doesn't pay. As U.S. Sen. John Cornyn told the El Paso Times Editorial Board on Aug. 18, U.S. authorities manning the ports of entry may admit persons to the U.S. if they deem it an emergency situation.

In these cases, it is only fair to El Paso taxpayers that the federal government make good on any of those hospital bills not paid. The onus should not be placed on just the taxpayers of El Paso County.

County Commissioner Luis Sariñana points out that some of the bills for drug-war victims have been paid through private insurance, by the Mexican government, through federal grants via the Sheriff's Office and by federal money designated for treatment of immigrants.



That helps.
In an El Paso Times/News Channel 9 poll, only a small percentage of El Pasoans think victims of Juárez drug violence should be treated at Thomason.

The poll showed 56.6 percent saying "no," 16.1 percent being "undecided" and 27.3 percent saying "yes."

There have been some 900 drug-war deaths in Ju rez so far this year. The Mexican federal government, along with its army, have not been able to quell the Juárez cartel war.

El Paso taxpayers should not be saddled with the burden of paying medical costs for that terrifying war in our sister city.

Texas tops nation in number without insurance

By Rachel Platis

Despite an increase in insured Americans across the country, Texas leads the nation in the number of people without health insurance, according to a report released this week.

The number of uninsured nationwide decreased from 15.8 percent in 2006 to 15.3 percent in 2007, according to the report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report showed 24.4 percent of Texas residents went uninsured from 2005 to 2007.

"It's worse than last year, but the state's position hasn't changed," said John Greeley, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Insurance.

State legislatures have taken steps to improve insurance coverage for Texas, including a bill introduced in 2007 that subsidizes the health insurance industry in Texas.

"We are addressing this in any way we can," Greeley said.

Texas falls behind other states because Medicaid and children's health insurance programs are significantly less available here than in other states, said UT public affairs professor David Warner. Small businesses in Texas are also less likely than businesses in other states to offer health insurance to employees, he said.

Warner said undocumented residents also may have accounted for a larger uninsured population.

He said coverage can be improved by expanding Medicaid coverage, which is funded by the state and federal governments but managed by the state.

The Children's Health Insurance Program, which insures for $50 or less all children who qualify, was expanded during the state's 2007 legislative session, but should be more aggressively advertised by the state, Warner said.

However, he said, Texans' fear of higher taxes and giving some people "entitlements" prohibits Texas legislators from expanding state-funded insurance programs, he said.

Teenagers lose Medicaid and CHIP coverage at 18, so the University provides low-cost insurance through UnitedHealthcare that can also cover a student's spouse or children.

"Pay for care now, if you can," Warner said. "If something happens to you, you may never be able to buy insurance after that, at least on an individual basis."

Chemistry sophomore Samantha Huerta is covered by her parents' insurance until she turns 21.

"I think it's so important for students to have health insurance, especially since we are in daily contact with so many people," Huerta said, referring to a higher possibility of becoming ill.

Major medical events, especially during college, increase the importance of insurance, Greeley said.

"At UT, students may have the means to become insured, but may not see its value," he said.

New bids for Hidalgo border fence

Friday, August 29, 2008 at 2:27 p.m.

Action 4 News has learned the next bid for the Hidalgo County border fence should be awarded next month.

In August, construction of the border-levee in the town of Granjeno began.

The idea is to upgrade the levees and prevent illegal immigrants from crossing.

The project should be completed by the end of this year.

Rep. Madden reaches out to constituents

By Stephanie Flemmons, Staff Writer
(Created: Friday, August 29, 2008 11:24 AM CDT)

With the 81st Texas Legislative Session nearing, State Rep. Jerry Madden (R-Plano) decided to reach out to his constituents in order to gain insight.

“The intent is to first get feedback from constituents,” Madden said. “I want to gather what they are interested in, what they want and what they don’t want.”

Madden said during the 81st Legislature he believes there will be many challenges, including the Texas economy, transportation which includes both highway construction and public transportation, water issues, immigration, voter identification, taxation and many others.

“I have prepared this survey as a means of gathering your input on the important issues coming to the front for the upcoming 81st Legislature,” Madden said in a letter addressed to District 67 constituents. “I am your Representative and as such I need to know your collective opinions on these issues to better represent you. This coming year I expect to cast more than 4,000 votes as your Representative in Austin and it is my goal to use your input to make a truly representative vote on each issue.”

Madden said the survey has brought many issues to the surface, but three issues have received numerous responses.

Madden said he learned constituents are passionate about voters showing photo identification at the polling places prior to being allowed to vote.

“This is something we had at the Texas House level, but it died,” Madden said.

District 67 constituents are also passionate about illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

Out of 492 responses, 418 people believe we should eliminate sanctuary cities (cities that protect illegal immigrants) where immigration status of someone arrested is not checked by law enforcement. Furthermore, 462 out of the 492 responses believe the state should require counties to check the immigration status of all individuals charged with a felony.

“Illegal immigrants convicted of a felony who have served time in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice are deported after they serve their time,” Madden said. “We are worried about illegal immigrants who commit lesser felonies and are serving probation. We want to develop a process to deal with those individuals.”

Madden said he plans to take this first-time survey and utilize the responses to help voice their opinions to the legislatures. He said he hopes to gain insight for ideas on potential legislation.

“Some want me to do one thing and some want the complete opposite,” Madden said. “For some bills I won’t be the major writer, but I still want the constituent feedback.”

Madden believes it is important for District representatives to be available to their constituents.

Madden is setting up focus groups where volunteers meet to discuss specific areas of interest including economy, job development, taxation, water issues, transportation, education K-12, higher education, criminal justice and immigration.

For information on focus groups or to participate in the survey, visit

Madden said he will try to answer any questions by phone, email or internet.

“Please give us your contact information so that I can discuss these issues with you,” Madden said in a press release. “I thank you for the honor of serving you and Texas. It is a great privilege to represent all of the citizens of District 67.”

Contact Stephanie Flemmons at

Suspect indicted on murder charges

By Stephanie Flemmons, Staff Writer
(Created: Friday, August 29, 2008 11:24 AM CDT)

A Collin County grand jury indicted an individual for one count of aggravated assault and one count of murder.

Marcos Noe Fernandez, 30, was arrested on charges of murder and attempted capital murder by Plano police June 14.

According to police records, a Plano police officer located a 24-year-old male with stab wounds at the Plano Tire Store, located in the 1500 block of Central Expressway.

The stabbing victim, Sergio Orlando DeLeon, 24, told police that he and his cousin Osbelio David DeLeon, 21, had gone to see a friend, Evelyn Morales, at the Alta Vista Apartments.

Sergio told police they were knocking on her door when three Hispanic males suddenly attacked him and stabbed him in the abdomen.

Sergio told police he attempted to run away from the location and the Hispanic male subject followed and stabbed him two more times in the back. Sergio said he did not know where his cousin was.

Police found Osbelio unconscious in the parking lot of the southeast portion of the apartment complex.

Osbelio DeLeon was pronounced dead from stab wounds just after 1 a.m., according to police.

When police contacted Morales, she said she did not hear knocking on her door, but heard several males from the apartment above, running down the stairs just before the police officers’ arrival.

Morales said she saw the subjects leaving in a gray four-door vehicle and told police the owner of the vehicle lives in the apartment directly above hers.

Police learned there were four individuals in the apartment.

Samuel De Jesus Chacon gave police a written consent to search his apartment and provided officers with a key.

When officers arrived at the apartment, the deadbolt was locked from the inside making them unable to unlock the door.

Police used a neighboring balcony to enter through the back door.

Chacon, Gustavo Ortega, 18, Edgar Castaneda, 27, and Leonel Ortega, 22, were identified inside the apartment.

Ortega told police all the men in the apartment fled before police arrived.

Castaneda told police he had been on the back porch drinking beer when he heard Rivera Ortega say that “someone had gotten stabbed and Marcos had done it,” according to the affidavit.

Castenda said Fernandez ran back into the apartment after the stabbing and jumped over the balcony carrying a knife.

Police contacted Milton Hiran Guzman Gregon, 22, who was arrested earlier that same evening for public intoxication. Guzman told police at approximately 11:30 p.m. two Hispanic males knocked on the apartment door. He said Fernandez answered the door and the men left. They returned 15 minutes later and knocked once again. He told police there was a verbal exchange the second time.

Guzman followed Fernandez and advised him to stop after the first stabbing, but he ran off after the second individual.

Guzman told police he advised everyone in the apartment Fernandez had stabbed the two men that were at the door.

Fernandez then ran back into the apartment and yelled that everyone needed to “get out.”

According to Rick McDonald, Plano police spokesman, investigators identified Fernandez as a Guatemalan national currently residing in Plano.

Fernandez was transported to the Collin County Detention Center, where he currently remains in lieu of a $900,000 bond. The Department of Homeland Security has placed an immigration hold on Fernandez.

Contact Stephanie Flemmons at

August 28, 2008

Small group walking in protest of border fence

Aug. 28, 2008
The Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas -- About a dozen people are walking from Fort Hancock to El Paso to protest construction of the border fence.

The opponents of the fence are planning to finish the 55-mile trek by Saturday and then continue their protest in nearby Sunland Park, N.M.

Chanting as they marched Thursday, the protesters carried signs decrying the planned 100 miles of new border fencing in far West Texas and New Mexico. Parts of the new fencing are already being built in front of existing chain-link fencing in east El Paso.

The protest, dubbed the March for Peace and Unity, is being organized by several local immigrant rights groups.

Oklahoma: AG defends immigration law

Associated Press - August 28, 2008 4:35 PM ET

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma attorney general's office has filed a brief with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals defending Oklahoma's tough anti-illegal immigration law.

The state is asking the Denver court to reverse a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron, who has blocked enforcement of provisions of the law affecting employers.

Cauthron ruled it was "substantially likely" that the law is unconstitutional.

Assistant Attorney General Dan Weitman argues in a brief filed this week that Oklahoma had every right to enact a law protecting taxpayers from suffering adverse effects from illegal immigration.

Weitman says the statute was carefully crafted so it would not interfere with federal law.

Cauthron issued the order prohibiting enforcement of parts of the law in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Brennan Denied Bail Again

August 28, 2008

By Jim Dee

JUST weeks after three congressmen called for Maze escapee Pol Brennan to be released on bail from a Texas immigration jail, an appeals court has upheld his earlier bond denial, making it all but certain that the Belfast native will remain imprisoned until his next scheduled court appearance on September 24.

In issuing its ruling on Tuesday, the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Virginia, agreed with the Texas judge who denied Brennan bail in April on the grounds that he was a danger to society.

The court cited Brennan’s 1984 entry into the U.S. using a false name, and his later purchase of a targeting pistol using an alias, as proof that he had criminal tendencies. The court also noted a 2005 misdemeanor assault conviction, which Brennan received after an altercation with San Francisco contractor who’d refused to pay him $1,000 in wages owed.

Although Brennan has always insisted that the contractor assaulted him first, on advice from his lawyer he eventually pleaded guilty and subsequently paid a $1,500 fine and performed 500 hours of community service.

However, unlike Judge Howard Achstsam who has been overseeing Brennan’s case since he was stopped for having a lapsed U.S. work permit at a Texas immigration checkpoint in late January, the Board of Immigration Appeals court didn’t find that Brennan is a flight risk.

Last month, three congressmen – New York Republicans Peter King and Jim Walsh, and Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal – called for Brennan to be granted bail pending the outcome of deportation proceedings against him. They had insisted Brennan is not a flight risk, and cited the fact that he had twice been bailed from U.S. jails without incident when Britain was seeking his extradition in the 1990s.

Speaking to the Irish Voice on Tuesday, Brennan’s lawyer, San Francisco-based Jim Byrne, said that the fact that the appeals board ruled Brennan was not a flight risk was a positive development.

“We were glad that they overturned the judge on the issue that he was a flight risk, “ said Byrne, “But I disagree with the ruling that he is a danger to the community.”

He said he now plans to appeal the bond denial to a higher court.

Brennan was one the U.S. 38 IRA prisoners who escaped Northern Ireland’s Maze in September 1983. He entered the U.S. months later, and was eventually caught by the FBI in Berkeley, California in 1993.

Two years after 1998’s Good Friday peace agreement in the North, Britain abandoned its extradition case against him. U.S. authorities then granted him a work permit that allowed him to work as a carpenter in the San Francisco Bay area.

On January 27, while driving with his American wife of 19 years to visit friends in Texas, Brennan was detained at an immigration checkpoint because his work permit had expired. Although he’d applied to renew his permit, authorities hadn’t yet sent it to him by the time he was stopped.

Department of Homeland Security prosecutors now want to deport him for entering the US using an alias in 1984.

Brennan was held at Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas from January until later July, when the jail was evacuated as Hurricane Dolly approached on July 22. Since then Brennan has had three prison relocations which have taken him across nearly 2,000 miles of Texas and New Mexico in less than two weeks.

He is currently at the Willacy County Processing Center (WCPC) in Raymondville, Texas, a private prison run by Utah-based Management and Training Corporation (MTC).

Speaking to the Irish Voice from WPPC on Tuesday, Brennan said that he is particularly frustrated by the fact that the misdemeanor assault continues to disadvantage him.

“It was self-defense,” he said “The guy got aggressive with me first.”

“I’m disappointed with the ruling, but I’m not surprised,” he added. “I wasn’t expecting anything different. But now we’ll take it to the federal level.”

ACN Newspapers appoints CFO, HR director

By ACN Staff
(Created: Thursday, August 28, 2008 12:40 AM CDT)

The corporate office of American Community Newspapers Inc. has announced the appointment of David Kosofsky as chief financial officer effective Aug. 25 and Carol J. Will as corporate human resources director, effective immediately.

American Community Newspapers Inc. is the parent company of The Little Elm Journal.

Kosofsky will be reporting directly to Gene Carr, chairman and chief executive officer of ACN.

“David’s impressive track record of leading financial operations and his 21 years of domestic and international experience, including about 10 years within the newspaper industry, make him a valuable addition to ACN,” Carr said. “He has demonstrated an ability as a strong financial leader to improve profitability, planning, reporting and control. We look forward to his fresh perspective and seasoned expertise.”

Kosofsky joins ACN from ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Inc., an international provider of security solutions for the hotel industry and a subsidiary of a $5 billion publicly traded Swedish corporation, where he led the financial turnaround during a fast-growth phase. As chief financial officer, Kosofsky was responsible for the finance, accounting, IT and legal functions. During his almost three years with ASSA ABLOY, Kosofsky implemented an ERP system, financial controls and procedures, including budgetary and inventory controls.

“ACN is a great opportunity for me to return to the publishing sector and leverage my financial experience in an industry that I admire and for a great company,” he said. “I’m looking forward to embarking on this next phase of my career and working with ACN’s highly regarded management team and employees.”

Will is assuming responsibility for all facets of human resources, supporting the company’s corporate leadership by guiding and managing the overall provision of corporate and employee policies and programs. She also will report directly to Carr.

“Carol brings extensive experience in both office management and employee relations, compounded by an impressive legal background in employment policy,” Carr said. “We are excited to have her join our team and are confident that Carol will maintain ACN’s employee-oriented culture, local community approach and the high standards in which our Company has always adhered to.”

Will joins ACN from YUM Brands Inc., which operates Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and other fast-food chains, where she served as the governmental affairs coordinator. YUM Brands consistently lobbies state governments on legislation involving labor issues, including minimum wage, paid sick leave, immigration reform and other employment matters.

“I am very happy to be joining Gene and the team at ACN,” Will said. “This role gives me an opportunity to combine my disciplines and past experiences to help ensure the ongoing development of a superior work force within a leading media business like American Community Newspapers.”

Crisis of the Uninsured 2008 NCPA

National Center for Policy Analysis
Daily Policy Digest

August 28, 2008


Despite claims that there is a health insurance crisis in the United States, the number of U.S. residents without health insurance actually fell in 2007, says Devon Herrick, a health economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis. According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of uninsured fell from 47.0 million to 45.7 million. Furthermore, the proportion of uninsured fell half a percentage-point, from 15.8 percent to 15.3 percent.

In fact, the proportion of people without health insurance was a percentage-point lower in 2007 than a decade earlier (16.3 percent in 1998). The slight increase in the number of uninsured over the past decade is largely due to immigration and population growth -- and to individual choice, says Herrick.

How Big Is the Problem? In 2007, according to Census Bureau data:

Nearly 85 percent (253.5 million) of U.S. residents were privately insured or enrolled in a government health program, such as Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Programs (S-CHIP).

Nearly 18 million of the uninsured lived in households with annual incomes above $50,000 and could likely afford health insurance.
Up to 14 million uninsured adults and children qualified for government programs in 2004 but had not enrolled, according to the BlueCross BlueShield Association.

In theory, therefore, about 32 million people, or 70 percent of the uninsured, could easily obtain coverage but have chosen to forgo insurance, explains Herrick. That means that about 95 percent of United States residents either have health coverage or access to it. The remaining 5 percent live in households that earn less than $50,000 annually. This group does not qualify for Medicaid and (arguably) earns too little to easily afford expensive family plans costing more than $12,106 per year. A uniform tax credit would go a long way toward helping this group afford coverage.

Source: Devon Herrick, "Crisis of the Uninsured: 2008," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 626, August 28, 2008.

For text:

ICE seeks local drug trafficker linked to head of Sinaloa cartel

Posted: Aug 28, 2008 04:24 PM CDT

EL PASO, Texas -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are seeking a top leader of a large cell of the Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman drug-trafficking network, ICE officials said Thursday.

Jose Jaime Arroyos-Carrillo, 51, is a convicted drug dealer believed to have worked for Guzman, Mexico's top drug kingpin and head of the Sinaloa cartel. The Guzman network is believed to have smuggled multi-ton shipments of cocaine and marijuana through the area, officials said.

Arroyos-Carrillo and the other two men were named in a 29-count indictment by an El Paso grand jury in November 2006. The three were indicted on various drug trafficking charges.

ICE officials believe Arroyos-Carrillo may be hiding in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Local police deploy ICE on illegal alien criminals

Published: 08.28.08

Tomball’s new police chief, Robert Hauck, is having a totally different experience in dealing with illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

Hauck previously served in the Los Angeles Police Department before moving to Texas to take over the chief of police job in Tomball. He is familiar with California’s immigration policies which he said kept law enforcement’s hands out of the federal government’s duty to determine who is illegal or not. Others want to “round-up” all illegals and deport them. In Texas, he said, he thinks the state has struck a nice balance.

“When we arrest someone for a crime and we think they my be illegal aliens, we contact ICE (the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement) and they will determine if someone is illegal, and if so, set up deportation procedures,” Hauck said.

Hauck and two other members of his police department, captains Rick Grassi and Rickey Doerre, recently attended a meeting intended to open up the lines of communications between ICE and local law enforcement agencies like Tomball. The meeting was facilitated by Congressman Michael McCaul.

The Dist. 10 Congressman hosted his third meeting between law enforcement authorities in Harris County, who do not have the authority to remove criminal aliens, and ICE, which does have that power, in order to enhance interagency communications.

“It is imperative that cities like Tomball and Katy have the means to remove threats from their communities, especially if they are in this country illegally to begin with,” McCaul said in a written statement.

Too often, the congressman said, police and sheriff’s deputies’s hands are tied when it comes to illegal immigration.

“They need that direct face to face contact with ICE so that any time an illegal is picked up on any charge, even if it’s a misdemeanor, they can be eligible for deportation out of this country,” he said.

Hauck said he doesn’t see any problems in Tomball specifically with illegal aliens, explaining that the focus of his department is on anyone committing crimes.

“Our focus in the meeting was sharing information and passing it on to ICE so they can determine if a detainee needs to be deported,” he said. “From my perspective, the meeting was about developing law enforcement relationships rather than operating independently.”

Hauck said his focus is always on crime in Tomball and not doing the federal government’s job.

“We don’t simply want to put illegal alien criminals in our county or state jails but to pass the information along to ICE,” he said.

Hauck said he found the meeting to be very educational.

If ICE determines a suspect is subject to removal proceeding that fall within its enforcement regulations, ICE may file a detainer which permits local authorities to hold the suspect for up to 48 hours, until ICE agents are able to take custody and begin the deportation process.

Congressman McCaul has hosted meetings between ICE and local authorities throughout his district in an effort to maximize limited federal resources dedicated to enforcing immigration laws.

The Houston ICE office has 35 officers working in 53 counties.

According to McCaul, Houston demands the greatest attention and said smaller communities have been “virtually ignored because of a lack of ICE personnel and inmate housing capacity.”

Nine officers from Harris County Sheriff’s Office recently received federal training allowing them to enforce immigration laws, according to McCaul’s office.

For an example of how open communications between ICE and law enforcement agencies of smaller communities work, the congressman pointed to the city of Katy.

A meeting between ICE and Katy police in April resulted in increased cooperation and combined to deport an illegal immigrant who was previously convicted of a child sex crime in the United States. According to a statement from McCaul’s office, “the relationship has also sent a clear message that Katy is not a ‘sanctuary’ city for illegal immigrants.”

We the People - Writer misses point on language

Writer misses point on language

05:22 PM CDT on Thursday, August 28, 2008

Re: "A message for the English-only ultra-patriots – This argument isn't really about language, muses Mary Sanchez. It's about punishing immigrants," Sunday Points.

With few exceptions, history has shown that people who don't speak the same language cannot create a common culture and that people of different cultures eventually don't want to live together. We seek a common language to preserve our union.

California is not known as a bastion of right-wing America-first-ers. When bilingual education was struck down there, it was due to the support of the Hispanic community. Those immigrants understand the necessity of speaking the language of the society they live in. Ms. Sanchez should get out more and learn that there isn't an immigrant-punishing cross-burner hiding around every corner.

Gerald Meazell, Frisco

August 27, 2008

Poverty, income snapshots show that economy improved slightly in 2007


Household incomes increased slightly and poverty held steady last year in the U.S., while the number of people with no health insurance decreased for the first time in two years, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

A series of economic snapshots indicates that 2007 may have been the last year of economic recovery from the nation’s 2001-02 recession. The numbers do not reflect this year’s economic downturn, exacerbated by high fuel and food costs and a national housing crisis.

"A year ago, the economy was still fairly robust," said Bernard Weinstein, director of the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas. "The economy today is in much worse shape than it was a year ago."

Texas, Tarrant County and Fort Worth also saw slight increases in median household incomes and tiny decreases in the poverty rate. But in Arlington, the median income went down slightly and the poverty rate inched up.

And though the number of people with no health insurance declined nationwide, the number went up in Texas. The Lone Star State continues to lead the nation with the highest percentage of people lacking health insurance, at 25.2 percent.

The numbers were drawn from two surveys released Tuesday by the Census Bureau, titled Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007 and the 2007 American Community Survey. Only cities and counties with more than 65,000 people were included.

Census Bureau data show that the increase in household incomes during the recent economic expansion have been relatively flat, compared with more robust income growth seen after the recessions of the early 1980s and early 1990s.

Median household incomes were slightly higher in 1999 than they were in 2007 when adjusted for inflation, according to the Census Bureau. The median is the point at which half of the incomes are higher and half are lower.

Median incomes increased 3.3 percent in Texas last year, well above the 1.9 percent increase nationwide.

Dallas-Fort Worth has benefited from a diversified economy that includes new jobs and exploration of the Barnett Shale natural gas formation, Weinstein said.

The region’s housing market has not been as hard-hit as in the rest of the nation, and it is cushioned by the defense and information technology industries, he said.

"If I had to pick one place to ride out the recession of 2008-2009, it would be the state of Texas," Weinstein said.

Where there’s a need

In Tarrant County, Arlington was the anomaly, with a 3 percent decrease in household incomes and a 0.2 percent increase in the poverty rate, which is within the survey’s margin of error.

The numbers likely reflect Arlington’s position as an older suburb that has been drawing immigrants and lower-income families for about 10 years, Weinstein said. For 2007, the poverty threshold for a family of four is $21,203.

Tillie Burgin, executive director of Mission Arlington, said 2008 started with a growing demand for help. The queries have continued with jumps in fuel and food prices, she said.

"They are making choices of rent, utilities, gas in the car," Burgin said.

In Fort Worth, the Southside Church of Christ has been working to help struggling families. The requests for help have grown about 10 percent in 2008 compared with 2007.

Daniel Leaf, local missions minister at the church’s food pantry program, said the pantry helps about 400 families a month in south-central Fort Worth.

"When we talk with people we find that . . . the need is more profound," Leaf said.

Lack of health insurance

The percentage of Texans who have no health insurance increased for three consecutive years. The state has long led the nation in that category.

Texas has many immigrants, both legal and illegal, and noncitizens have the highest uninsured rate, according to the census data.

Cuts in previous years to the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program have also driven up the rate of uninsured, said Frances Deviney, a senior research associate for the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin.

And many people who are eligible for state healthcare programs don’t know how to use the system, which Deviney said has too much red tape.

Nationwide, more people are using Medicaid and other government health insurance programs, one reason the uninsured rate decreased in the U.S., said David Johnson, chief of the Census Bureau’s division of Housing and Household Economic Statistics.

The Fort Worth Northside Community Health Center serves the uninsured with the help of federal grant money. Sixty-four percent of the patients don’t have government or commercial insurance, said Don Campion, the center’s chief operating officer.

More than 80 percent of the center’s patients are Hispanics who live on Fort Worth’s north side, but patients come from across Tarrant County.

"We are seeing a little bit more increase in Medicaid," Campion said. "It looked like it started to trend up in the last part of 2007."

Online: Read the surveys at


DIANE SMITH, 817-390-7675 JEFF CLAASSEN, 817-390-7710

Missing Marlin girl to return home

By Cindy V. Culp | Wednesday, August 27, 2008, 10:43 AM

A Marlin girl who was reported missing Monday and then found in Arkansas with an older man is expected to return home today.

Marlin Police Chief Tom Hamilton said the girl was reported missing by her family at 7:30 a.m. Monday and then found later that night in a hotel in Berryville, Ark. She was with Jesus Diaz Lopez, 24, who had lived on the same street as her family. Hamilton said he is unsure whether Lopez is currently living in a house on Gift Street.

Lopez has been charged with aggravated sexual assault of child in connection with the incident. No bond has been set for the charge, said an official with the Carroll County Detention Center in Arkansas. Lopez also has an immigration hold on him, the official said.

The detention center records list his age as 18, the detention official said. However, Hamilton said he believes Lopez is in his 20s.

Details of exactly what happened are sketchy because Marlin police have not talked to the girl, Hamilton said. But at this point, officials have no reason to believe she was forced to go with Lopez, he said.

Officers were able to track the pair to Arkansas, Hamilton said, after the girl’s father told police that Lopez has been following his daughters around. Officers then went and talked to others who lived in the house where he had been staying and were informed that Lopez was in Arkansas on the way to a job in North Carolina.

Hamilton said Lopez apparently travels from place to place building chicken houses.

According to a report from the Berryville Police Department, both Lopez and the girl tried to resist being taken into custody when officers found them at the motel. Several other members of the work crew were staying at the same motel, the report says.

The report also says the pair were packed up and appeared ready to leave the motel. Hamilton said they were apart to leave for North Carolina.

“They got them just in time,” he said.

Hamilton said he does not expect the girl to be charged as a runaway.

Diboll Independent School District offers healthy meals every school day

County News August 27, 2008

Children need healthy meals to learn. Diboll Primary and Temple Elementary Schools offer healthy meals every school day. Breakfast is free; lunch costs $1.50. Your children may qualify for free meals or for reduced-price meals. Reduced price is $.30 for breakfast and $.40 for lunch.

This information is provided for parents to help in filling out the accompanying application.

1. Do I need to fill out an application for each child? No. Complete one application to apply for free or reduced-price meals. Use one Free and Reduced-Price School Meals Application for all students in your household. We cannot approve an application that is not complete, so be sure to fill out all required information. Return the completed application to: Child Nutrition Department, Lucy Rosales, 215 N. Temple Blvd., Diboll, TX 75941, (936) 829- 6104.

2. Who can get free meals? Children in households receiving Food Stamps or TANF can get free meals regardless of your income, Your benefit letter from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is your documentation for free meals, If you have not already received a letter from your school stating that your household is eligible for free meals, you may take your HHSC benefit letter to your child nutrition office to be certified for free meals. Call the Child Nutrition Department at (936) 829-6104 if you have questions.

3. Should I fill out an application if I got a letter this school year saying my children are approved for free or reduced-price meals? In most cases no, however read the letter you got carefully and follow the instructions. Call the Child Nutrition Department at (936) 829-6104 if you have questions. If your household does not receive Food Stamps or TANF, your children may still be eligible to receive free meals if your household income is less than the amounts listed on the federal Income Eligibility Guidelines. Please complete the application and submit it to your child nutrition office. Head Start students and most foster children may also qualify for free meals.

4. Can homeless, runaway and migrant children get free meals? Yes, If you have not been notified of free status under these categories, please call the Child Nutrition Department, (936) 8294104 to see if your child(ren) qualify.

5. Who can get reduced price meals? Your children can get low cost meals if your household income is within the reducedprice limits on the Federal Income Chart, included in this application packet.

6. I get WIC. Can my child(ren) get free meals? Children in households participating in WlC may be eligible for free or reducedprice meals. Please fill out an application.

7. Will the information I give be checked? Yes, we may ask you to send written proof.

8. If I don't qualify now, may I apply later? Yes. You may apply at any time during the school year if your household size goes up, income goes down, or if you start getting Food Stamps, TANF or other benefits.

9. What if I disagree with the school's decision about my application? You should talk to school officials. You also may ask for a hearing by calling or writing to: Gary Martel, 215 N. Temple Blvd., Diboll TX 75941 (936) 829-4718.

10. May I apply if someone in my household is not a U.S. citizen? Yes. You or your child(ren) do not have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

11. Who should I include as members of my household? You must include yourself and all people living in your household, related or not (such as children, grandparents, other relatives or friends).

12. What if my income is not always the same? List the amount that you normally receive. For example, if you normally get $1000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only got $900, put down that you get $1000 per month. If you normally get overtime pay, include that amount as income. If you do not normally get overtime pay, do not include it as income.

13. We are in the military; do we include our housing allowance as income? If your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income. All other allowances must be included in your gross income.

If you have other questions or need help, call (936) 829-6104. Si necesita ayuda, por favor llame al teléfono: (936) 829-4104. Si vous voudriez d'eido, contacfez nous au numero: (936) 829-6104.

Sincerely, Janice Koether

Child Nutrition Director

Your children may qualify for free or reduced- price meals if your household income falls within the limits on this chart.

For School Year 2008-09
Household Yearly Monthly Weekly
1 $19,240 $1,604 $370
2 $25,900 $2,159 $499
3 $32,560 $2,714 $627
4 $39,220 $3,269 $755
5 $45,880 $3,824 $883
6 $52,540 $4,379 $1,011
7 $59,200 $4,934 $1,139
8 $65,860 $5,489 $1,267
Each Additional person
$6,660 $555 $129

Harris County Deputies Will Work with ICE

Nine deputies will have the ability to start the deportation process.

By KTRH's Alan Scaia
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Harris County Sheriff's Office has trained nine deputies to work with immigration agents. The deputies will work in the jail and have the ability to trace aliens' lineage and start the deportation process.

"This really helps on a local level having deputies who can do that," says Major Bob Van Pelt. "It helps ICE out, and it helps the community out. They can identify those individuals who come under their purview and who are booked into the Harris County Jail."

Nine deputies have completed the training and will work at the jail. They will look into the immigration status of suspects under the supervision of federal investigators.

"You're going to see a more enhanced, ramped up community in these communities to deport criminal aliens from our society," says Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX). "Katy was sued by the ACLU several years ago just for working with INS."

McCaul says Katy stopped working with immigration agents for four years as a result of the lawsuit. He says smaller departments need to communicate with federal investigators.

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We the People - Bilingual ballots unnecessary

03:45 PM CDT on Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Re: "A message for the English-only ultra-patriots – This argument isn't really about language, muses Mary Sanchez. It's about punishing immigrants," Sunday Points.

Ms. Sanchez's column is typical of the folks who bash us for wanting English to be our official language. We do not mind hearing any language here in this country. We simply feel that printing and speaking everything in English and Spanish is unnecessary. We do not do that for the Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Polish, etc. Why Spanish?

No other nation in the world prints election ballots in other than their national language. Why should we?

Speak anything you want, but learn English and let's stop printing everything in Spanish and English.

Mitchell B. Sandlin, Mesquite

Man Detained At Airport Still In Federal Custody

A man detained at the San Antonio International Airport Tuesday remains in federal custody.

The man, who officials say is from India, was stopped for going through security with several suspicious electronic devices.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the 36-year-old man is still in federal custody, and his immigration status is in question.

Airport officials became suspicious when the man tried going through an security checkpoint with an MP3 player, wrapped in tape and batteries, and connected with wires to another electronic device. Officials said they also checked his flight itinerary and found he'd booked 3 one-way flights.

Wednesday, I.C.E. released a statement to News 4, saying in part:

"Aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States are processed for deportation or given a judicial hearing before the appropriate judicial authority, depending on the individual circumstances."

Illegal immigrants arrested in Lubbock chase

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 10:15 a.m.

Nine suspected illegal immigrants are in custody after allegedly fleeing from Border Patrol agents in Lubbock.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that a Border Patrol agent stopped their van in the 7000 block of Avenue P at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Officials told the newspaper that the van initially stopped, but then took off leading agents on a car chase and then footchase.

The Avalanche-Journal reported that two of the suspects were from Nicaragua, two were from Guatemala, one was from Honduras, one was from El Salvador and three were from Mexico.

Authorities told the newspaper that all nine were all living illegally in Jacksonville, Fla., and had driven to Lubbock to work in the construction business.

Most of the group likely will be taken to an immigration detention center to await deportation to their home countries.

Abilene has role in border protection

Federal, local agencies work together toward common goals
By Brian Bethel (Contact)
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When it comes to stemming the flow of illegal immigrants, Abilene does play a part in strategies of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The two organizations frequently work together and with other law enforcement agencies in the area to accomplish common goals, representatives of each said Wednesday.

"We routinely work with Border Patrol and many, many different law enforcement agencies to accomplish the common goal of combating crime," said Carl Rusnok, a spokesman with ICE.

Agents in the Abilene station, the northernmost office of the CBP's Del Rio Sector, generally are patrolling highways, focusing on critical transit areas such as Interstate 20, said Dennis Smith, a public affairs officer for the organization.

And Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts may include work with the program's five main offices -- Investigations, Detention and Removal, Intelligence, Internal Affairs and Federal Protective Service.

Although a perennial issue for the United States, the issue of illegal immigration has again come to the forefront in recent weeks thanks to highly publicized raids by ICE.

Federal agents recently raided a manufacturing plant in Mississippi and rounded up hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants, the AP reported this week.

The Mississippi raid, in which agents arrested nearly 600 people on Monday, is said to have been the largest workplace enforcement raid in the nation's history, but it is one of several nationwide in recent years.

On May 12, for example, federal immigration officials swept into Agriprocessors, the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant, in Iowa. Nearly 400 workers were detained and dozens of fraudulent permanent resident alien cards were seized from the plant's human resources department, court records showed.

The issue has received comment and criticism from a variety of sources.

Rhode Island's Roman Catholic bishop recently called on U.S. authorities to halt mass immigration raids and said agents who refuse to participate in such raids on moral grounds deserve to be treated as conscientious objectors.

Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin asked for a blanket moratorium on immigration raids in Rhode Island until the nation adopts comprehensive immigration reform.

Protecting borders

An illegal immigrant can be anyone from a person who has overstayed a visa to individuals looking for work to drug traffickers, Smith said.

"As far as the countries that people originate from, that could be any country in the world," he said. The majority CPB interacts with are from Mexico, but that is "not exclusive," Smith said.

Abilene, considered a substation of San Angelo's office, is an "essential" part of the overall sector mission, he said.

"Our agents do gain a good bit of experience on the job, and they're able to by observation and experience detect potential illegal activity, just like other law enforcement agencies," he said. "Just like local police, they get a sense for when something may not be as it should be."

Smith could not provide the number of agents at the Abilene agency because of security reasons, he said.

Interior stations like Abilene primarily back up stations directly on the border, and agents in the Abilene area are charged with focusing on critical transit nodes, including interstate highways such as I-20.

Abilene's substation covers eight counties, including Taylor, Callahan, Jones, Nolan, Palo Pinto, Shackelford and Stephens.

The agency's Operation Streamline, which started in the Del Rio sector in December 2005, basically takes a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal immigration, Smith said. Those under the program face criminal prosecution and administrative sanction that can impair their ability to apply for legal entry later on, he said.

The program, which started in Eagle Pass and has since spread, is credited with a deterrence effect that has caused the number of apprehensions throughout the sector to drop -- a good thing, Smith said.

In fiscal year 1999, for example, border agents apprehended more than 156,000 people. In the last fiscal year, that number had dropped to 22,918.

"Agents have been better able to focus on areas where they're not overrun with illegal immigration problems," he said.

The area overseen by ICE's Dallas division, made up of 128 counties, has deported more than 11,600 people so far in fiscal year 2008, he said.

In all of fiscal year 2007, the organization deported 13,400 people. In 2007, about 5,300 of those deported were considered "criminal aliens," he said.

Examples might be related to drug charges or immigration violations. Attempted re-entry after deportation is a felony, Rusnok said.

So far in fiscal year 2008, about 3,500 criminal aliens have been deported. Local numbers for Taylor County were not available.

John Cummins, a spokesman with the Taylor County Sheriff's Department, said that it's not common for federal agencies to ask for his agency's help in detaining illegal immigrants, but it does happen.

"It's something that just happens on a case-by-case basis," he said.

August 26, 2008

Agents find 62 illegal immigrants in home

Aug. 26, 2008

By CHRISTOPHER SHERMANAssociated Press Writer

EDINBURG, Texas -- Federal agents found 62 illegal immigrants in a two-bedroom house after receiving a tip about suspicious activity in a quiet neighborhood Tuesday.

Neighbors on both sides of the duplex where Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents found the immigrants were shocked by the news.

"I was just looking around thinking 'where would they all fit,'" said Cris Melaragno, who lives in another duplex next door. "I barely have room for me and my three kids."

Melaragno said she had spoken with her neighbors who shared the duplex with the stash house and they had never heard a sound.

"I can hear it when my neighbors play the radio," Melaragno said.

When she noticed the agents surrounding the house Tuesday morning, she came out but was told to go back inside.

The only thing that seemed suspicious in hindsight was a man who always entered the house after closing the garage door and who drove a variety of pickup trucks and jeeps, Melaragno said.

Mostly young families live in the new brick duplexes lining one side of a residential street.

The Border Patrol received a phone call reporting suspicious activity at the home Tuesday and went to check it out with ICE and the Edinburg Police Department, said Border Patrol spokesman Dan Doty.

Inside they found 62 people who appeared to be in good health. It was unknown how long they had been in the house, Doty said.

The undocumented immigrants hailed from a variety of Central American countries including Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico, said ICE spokeswoman Adelina Pruneda.

"We're working leads to determine how they got into the country," Pruneda said. No arrests have been made.

Border Patrol processed the immigrants and they could be turned over to ICE for deportation, Doty said.

Yesenia Castro, who lives in the duplex on the other side of the stash house, was watching news of the illegal immigrant bust on television Tuesday evening and said she did not know anyone lived next door.

"I can't believe it either," Castro said in Spanish.

Doty said finding stash houses with so many illegal immigrants was more common eight to 10 years ago, but less so now.

"If you saw the house, you'd be shocked," he said. "It was a very nice neighborhood."

Pair get probation in scheme to smuggle Filipino teachers

By Stephanie Sanchez / El Paso Times

EL PASO -- A woman and her son who owned a Houston-based group that smuggled Filipino teachers to several El Paso school districts, on Monday were sentenced to three months probation each, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Noel Cedro Tolentino and his mother, Florita Cedro Tolentino, were sentenced after they pleaded guilty in January to charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. of a $1.75 million house and $80,000 from five different bank accounts under both of their names were surrendered in a forfeiture order, said Daryl Fields, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton.

Charges against Noel Tolentino's wife, Angelica Tolentino, who was also implicated in the case, were dismissed Friday after she agreed to not contest the forfeiture order, he said.

All three of their lawyers could not be reached for comment Monday.

The case originally went to trial in early 2007, but U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone declared a mistrial because a couple of jury members said they had read a newspaper article about the proceedings.

A retrial was set for January, but Noel Tolentino and Florita Tolentino entered a guilty plea on charges of failing to tell the U.S. government the smuggled Filipino teachers did not have confirmed employment in America, in exchange for the dismissal of other charges. All three of the Tolentinos had been indicted on about 40 counts that included money laundering, conspiracy to smuggle immigrants and visa fraud.

The Tolentinos' company, OMNI Consortium of Houston, would take Texas school administrators on an all-expense paid trip to the Philippines. The administrators were expected to interview teachers and sign documents with intent to hire. The Tolentinos would then file for work visas and charged each Filipino teacher $10,000 for the visa.

During the trial in 2007, prosecutors described the fraud which involved school officials from Socorro, Ysleta, Canutillo, El Paso and other Texas school districts.

Prosecutors said during the 2007 trial that some Texas districts would back down on the number of teachers they needed after returning from the Philippines. Instead of canceling the teacher's work visas, the Tolentinos would continue with the process and shop the teachers at other school districts.

The U.S. Attorney's office has said 273 teachers were brought to the U.S. between 2002 and 2004, but less then 100 actually had jobs.

After the Noel Tolentino and Florita Tolentino sentencing on Monday, Noel Tolentino was detained by ICE, said Leticia Zamarripa, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson.

"He was here on some type of a work visa that had expired and that was why he was arrested on Friday," she said. She said Noel Tolentino will have to go before an immigration judge. A hearing before the judge has not been set, she said.

Stephanie Sanchez may be reached at; 546-6137.

Times reporter Ramon Bracamontes contributed to this story.

Austin Police Chase, Catch Truck Carrying Illegal Immigrants

(John Salazar)
A police chase through South Austin Tuesday ended with seven people in custody in a human smuggling ring.

From the Onion Creek overpass in South Austin, an Austin Police sergeant was running radar on northbound traffic on I-35 Tuesday when he spotted an unusual sight.

The sergeant eyeballed a pick-up truck with a bed full of bodies, people lying down in the back, apparently hiding.

He alerted fellow officers, who identified the truck as stolen. When they tried to stop the truck, the driver sped away. Police gave chase as the truck exited onto Oltorf.

But when the pick-up blazed through stoplights, police abandoned the pursuit in the name of safety.

It was then, though, that the case took an unexpected and lucky turn in the favor of police. Turning right onto Pleasant Valley, the truck was headed down a street that ends in a cul de sac. The truckload of illegal immigrants had literally come to the end of their road.

The driver and three people inside the cab of the truck continued their run on foot, escaping police under the canopy of the greenbelt.

But seven illegal immigrants, who had stowed themselves as hidden human cargo in the back of the pick-up, were rounded up by authorities. Considering they had just been whisked at high speeds down busy streets and through red lights, police say the group is lucky their dangerous dash for freedom hadn't come to a dead end in more ways than one.

"It was very dangerous to be at those speeds in the back of a short bed pick-up truck," Lt. Norris McKenzie of the Austin Police Department's Organized Crime Division said.

As curious neighbors emerged to watch authorities take away the seven people who had been in the back of the truck, some applauded the police work that stopped the band of illegals, hundreds of miles from the border where they began.

"Heck yeah, I'm glad to see it. That's what they get paid for. That's where my tax dollars go, so they're doing a good job at it," exclaimed a woman who identified herself only as 'Deborah'.

A juvenile and a woman are among the seven illegals hauled away. They have been turned over to Immigration and Customs officers for processing. Several of them now face federal immigration charges.

An Austin Police spokesman says it doesn't appear they were brought here against their will, but instead smuggled here because they wanted to enter the country.

As for the driver and three others who got away, Austin Police don't consider them to be a threat to the community.

New Information On Cartel Hit Men Coming To U.S.

With Mexican drug cartels in Juarez reportedly giving their hit men permission to pursue targets in the U.S., we ask the question who is safe and who is most at risk?

The power of the Mexican drug cartels so far has seemed endless. With more than 800 executions this year alone, hundreds of kidnappings and a city gripped by fear, the cartels has been able to act with impunity.

Now, with information that the cartels have given their hit men permission to pursue targets here in the U.S., that fear may be spreading.

Monday, Mayor John Cook interviewed live on Newschannel 9 at 6:00 to discuss this new information.

Newschannel 9 has confirmed that the intel first came from Immigration and Customs Enforcement who then shared it with the El Paso Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff's Department.

Beyond that, ICE wouldn't discuss the information further. Neither would any other law enforcement agencies. Still, Mayor Cook says the intel indicates that Mexican nationals may be the targets.

"Mexican nationals that have taken refuge in the United States may be the target of kidnappings and or assassination attempts." says Mayor Cook.

Immigration attorney Carlos Spector says that a number of his clients are police officers from Juarez who have come here to gain asylum. All along, their fear was that might be followed to the U.S.

"That's why most of them have refused to speak to the press cause they want to keep their claims silent, discreet, secret and out of the public eye so they, in fact, won't be pursued."

Border fence construction begins in Lower Valley

EL PASO, Texas -- The construction of the new border fence has begun in El Paso's Lower Valley.

Crews started setting up the infrastructure on Yarborough and the Border Highway on Tuesday. The fence will run parallel to the Rio Grande to help prevent immigrants from illegally crossing.

Some residents in the area are against the building of the fence. Sandra Mendoza says, "It's an eyesore, and again I say it's ecologically not sound for our neighborhood and our desert community."

Despite the opposition the multi-million dollar fence construction is moving forward. Officials say other stretches of the fence will be built within the next couple years.

Border Patrol agent Ramiro Cordero said, " We understand the fence is not the only solution but it's going to buy us those precious seconds for an agent to respond to an area where an entry had been attempted."

The fence will be made up of double wire and mesh screening, so residents will still be able to look southward into Mexico.

"Fencing is nothing to new to the community, it's always been there. We're fortifying that fence in order to protect and increase the quality of life in our communities," Cordero said.

Local Girl Kidnapped, Found in Arkansas

Posted: Aug 26, 2008 08:41 PM CDT

By Brian Collins

MARLIN- A 13-year-old girl is back with her family after she was kidnapped Sunday evening by an illegal immigrant.

Marlin Police said Jesus Diaz-Lopez convinced the girl to get in his car before traveling to North Carolina Sunday evening.

The girl was found Monday around 8:30 p.m. in Berryville, Ark. with Diaz. He has been charged with sexual assault of a child and kidnapping. Police also say Diaz, who is between the ages of 18 and 26, could also be face charges of taking a minor across state lines.

Diaz is being held in the Carroll County Jail with a federal immigration hold. He will be tried in Falls County, Texas.

Police say Diaz began approaching the girl when she was 12. Her father had told him to stay away from her on at least one occasion.

Police investigating possible immigrant smuggling

Updated: 8/26/2008 10:14 PM
By: News 8 Austin Staff

Police say seven undocumented immigrants were fit uncomfortably in the bed of this truck.

Federal agents are searching for several suspected immigrant smugglers, following a high speed chase in Austin.

Police first noticed a red pickup truck speeding at Onion Creek Parkway and Interstate 35.

Officials said seven undocumented immigrants were lying down in the bed of a red Dodge pickup truck. Police began following the truck, which reached speeds of 95 miles per hour.

The driver of the truck took the Oltorf Street exit, proceeded to run a red light and ended in a cul-de-sac on Pleasant Valley Street in South Austin.

Four people took off when a brick wall hindered the truck from going further.

The immigrants were apparently riding from Laredo to Austin.

They paid $1,500 apiece to get to this point.

Police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were on the scene Tuesday afternoon.

Officials said the immigrants were not in good condition.

"They've been stuck in the back of that truck since Laredo, and they're covered in mud, so whatever conditions they were in prior to us stopping them ... I mean, obviously not very clean," Sgt. Eric De Los Santos said. "There's a female minor among them."

The truck was impounded and officials will be doing further tests on it to see if it was outfitted for smuggling.

Police said they will try to find a way to get the seven immigrants back across the border as comfortably as possible.

August 25, 2008

Police say cartels give OK to hit targets in US

Aug. 25, 2008print email Digg it AIM

By ALICIA A. CALDWELLAssociated Press Writer

EL PASO, Texas -- Warring Mexican drug cartels have given their hit men permission to cross into the United States to kill their targets, according to warnings received by U.S. authorities.

Police and federal agents told The Associated Press about the warnings Monday, and officials along the border are beefing up security.

"We received credible information that drug cartels in Mexico have given permission to hit targets on the U.S. side of the border," El Paso police spokesman Officer Chris Mears said. "One of the first things we did was to notify all officers in our department of the situation."

Mears says authorities learned of the threat last week. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol officers have also been told about the threat and have ramped up security at border crossings.

"We are aware of it and we are addressing it," Chief CBP Officer Rick Lopez said. "CBP is on heightened alert ever since we became aware of the threats in Mexico."

U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier said agents in the El Paso Sector, which includes the two most western Texas counties and all of New Mexico, said Border Patrol officials "are reinforcing the importance of vigilance."

"We are closely monitoring these developments and will act accordingly to protect the integrity of the border," Mosier said. "We are always in the business of analyzing this type of information."

Drug cartel violence has claimed thousands of lives across Mexico this year. Nearly 800 people have been killed this year in Ciudad Juarez, a hard-scrabbled city of about 1.3 million people across the Rio Grande from El Paso.

The cartels, battling each other and the Mexican government for supremacy and control of lucrative drug and human smuggling routes, have become brazen in their attacks in recent months.

In Juarez earlier this month, masked gunmen stormed a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and killed eight people. Days later, Red Cross workers stopped treating gunshot victims for several hours after receiving death threats over Red Cross radios. The Red Cross had already stopped responding to emergency calls after 10 p.m. because of security concerns.

The deadly wave of shootings and a rise in kidnappings for ransom has prompted an untold number of Mexican nationals, including police officers, a prosecutor and a journalist to seek asylum in the U.S.

Immigration experts say their pleas have little chance of success, but lawyers representing asylum seekers have said their clients are willing to risk eventually being kicked out of the U.S. rather than stay in Mexico.

While the ongoing cartel war has been largely contained in Mexico, more than two dozen gunshot victims have been taken across the border for medical treatment in El Paso, prompting security lockdowns at the county hospital. The trend has spawned fears in El Paso that the violence could spill across the border.

Lopez said agents working at the ports, where those gunshot victims have been taken before coming into the U.S., are taking extra security precautions. Ambulances transporting gunshot victims are already being escorted by local law enforcement to the hospital, he said.

Earlier this year law enforcement officials in New Mexico and Texas announced that they had received a purported cartel hit list identifying 15 to 20 potential victims living in both states.

Mears said there were no specific targets listed as part of the latest threat.

George W. Grayson, a Mexico expert with the College of William and Mary in Virginia, said the latest threat is an "acceleration of what has been going on" in Mexico.

"It's further evidence of the blatant, just the audacity ... of these cartels," Grayson said. "You've got three cartels in Juarez, with a fight between the Gulf and the Sinaloa cartels, along with the Juarez Cartel. So that might have contributed to pushing some people across the border."

Pilgrim's Pride chief joins voices calling for immigration change

10:35 PM CDT on Monday, August 25, 2008
By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News

Poultry mogul Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim on Monday called for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.

"We have to rise up and do something," the 80-year-old co-founder of Pilgrim's Pride Corp. said at a gathering of Texas employers. "Every individual, all 300 million of us, every man, woman and child, is touched by this issue. We all have to have food. We all have to have shelter. And America doesn't have the labor to support the economy."

Mr. Pilgrim discussed the issue at a meeting in Irving attended by about 100 members of the lobbying group Texas Employers for Immigration Reform.

TEIR is an offshoot of the Texas Association of Business, headed by former Dallas state representative Bill Hammond. The group wants a legalization program for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and a guest worker program for future labor flows.

With increased enforcement of immigration laws, members said, such programs are essential. Speakers addressed such issues as fertility rates of native-born U.S. citizens, labor force replacement and the difficulties in verifying documents.

More than 300 workers at Pilgrim's Pride's plants in Mount Pleasant, Texas, and four other locations were arrested in April by immigration officers as part of an investigation into identity fraud. The sweep illustrated a switch in tactics in which the government uses criminal law to prosecute illegal immigrants. In that law enforcement action, Pilgrim's Pride, based in Pittsburg, Texas, wasn't charged.

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, said he supported a legalization program, but not one that would provide a pathway for U.S. citizenship.

Mr. Hammond called the distinction a "major sticking point" in the push for an overhaul. Such an effort failed last year before Congress.

At the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that wants immigration restrictions, spokesman Ira Mehlman dismissed the employers' efforts. "Most of these folks can't anticipate what their labor needs are six months from now. Why are they telling us what their needs are 20 years from now?"

Two of Ten Misconceptions That Can Hinder FEMA Disaster Aid

I have to be a legal U.S. resident to receive Individual Assistance.

Possibly. To be eligible for cash assistance from FEMA you must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien (* Also, see bullet below). A qualified alien generally includes individuals who are lawful permanent residents (possessing an alien registration receipt card) or those with legal status due to asylum, refugee, parole (admission into the U.S. for humanitarian purposes), withholding of deportation, or victim of domestic violence. Check with an immigration expert for any questions about your legal status.

(*) I am an undocumented immigrant, and I don't think I qualify.

Possibly. Applications for Individual Assistance may be made on behalf of a child who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien. Or another adult household member may qualify for household assistance if he or she is a documented immigrant. You may also be eligible under many different programs run by state, local and voluntary. An undocumented immigrant may be eligible for short-term, non-cash emergency aid provided by FEMA.

August 24, 2008

Police to deport criminal alien

Congressman Michael McCaul stops by Katy to commend the cooperation between the Katy Police Department and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement leading to the scheduled deportation of a criminal illegal immigrant. (Times photo Tracy Dang)

BY Tracy Dang

Times Managing Editor

Katy police are removing a criminal illegal immigrant from the streets, an effort made possible by an improved working relationship with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officials said during a press conference at the police department Wednesday morning.

The agencies are processing the deportation of an alien who was previously convicted of a child sex crime. Officials are withholding his name because he was prosecuted as a juvenile when he committed the crime in 1994.

Katy police had arrested the illegal immigrant “numerous times” for misdemeanor charges. Once in jail, police determined he was the same individual committing the sex-related crimes.

“We received numerous complaints against the criminal,” Chief Robert Frazier said. “He was known to expose himself and hang around parks and public places where children would be.”

However, the charges were not severe enough to keep him off the streets.

“He was just a daily nuisance,” Frazier said. “He created a problem, but he wasn’t the felony type.”

A court order filed against the city several years ago prevented local police from enforcing immigration laws, coining Katy’s image as a “sanctuary city.”

But a phone call from Katy Mayor Don Elder Jr. to U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul led to a face-to-face meeting between the two law enforcement agencies.

ICE filed a detainer allowing local authorities to hold a suspect for up to 48 hours until agents were able to take custody and begin the removal process.

“The big thing we were concerned about was the criminal effect of it,” Elder said. “We did not want illegal immigrants committing crimes and affecting our taxpayers.”

With 35 agents working at the Houston ICE office to serve 53 counties including Harris County, McCaul said smaller communities like Katy were “virtually ignored because of a lack of ICE personnel and inmate housing capacity.”

“(Illegal immigrants committing crimes) is a threat that is unacceptable, and deportation is the right remedy,” McCaul said. “Coordination with ICE is the difference here, and Katy was part of where it really needed to happen.

“Today, we are sending a message loud and clear that Katy is no longer a sanctuary city for criminal aliens,” McCaul said. “If you are here illegally and you commit a crime, you will be prosecuted and deported.”

We the People - Skirting the legal issues

I appreciate The Dallas Morning News attempting to ask Carlos Quintanilla some hard questions. I also appreciate Trinity Medical Center for upholding the law.

Mr. Quintanilla dances around the illegality issue. If immigration enforcement were truly "fair and equal," all illegals would be apprehended and deported.

I think Mr. Quintanilla would be singing a different song if this woman had used his Social Security number.

Felicity Pearson, McKinney

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