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ICE & courts in tug of war for criminal aliens

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Filed: Country: Belarus

ICE, courts in tug of war for suspects

Release on bond sometimes leads to deportation bid


2008 Houston Chronicle

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials planned to deport a Mexican woman accused of kidnapping and forcing a teenager to work as a prostitute even though she faces charges that could potentially carry a sentence of life in prison.

Gregoria Vazquez, 58, and her son, 27-year-old David Salazar, are accused of forcing a 16-year-old girl from Mexico to have sex with men in a northeast Houston bar, according to police and court records. Vazquez was booked into Harris County Jail March 10 on felony charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault of child, according to court records.

Vazquez, who was in the country illegally after overstaying a visa, posted $400,000 bond on the charges March 31, according to court records. After her release from Harris County Jail, immigration officials placed Vazquez in deportation proceedings, said Leticia Zamarripa, an ICE spokeswoman. She said the agency had planned to deport Vazquez as soon as possible. Vazquez was previously deported to Mexico in 1990.

"ICE does not have the authorization to hold individuals who come into our custody on state charges,"Zamarripa said. "So if the state releases them, and we have a detainer on them, we are going to remove them, and we are going to do it as expeditiously as possible."

Word of the plans to deport Vazquez reached Harris County District Court Judge Mary Lou Keel, who signed a bench warrant April 1 to revoke her bond and return her to Harris County Jail. Keel declined to comment Friday through her court coordinator.

District Judge Debbie Stricklin, administrative judge for the county's 20-plus criminal district courts, did not specifically comment on the Vazquez case, but said deporting people before they face criminal charges is "problematic."

At Vazquez's initial court hearing, a Harris County prosecutor asked for a high bail for Vazquez, noting her prior deportation and calling her a "flight risk" who also has a home in Mexico.

Bond posted again

After Vazquez was returned to Harris County Jail on the bench warrant on April 3, Keel reset the bail at $200,000 on each count, for a total of $400,000, according to court records. With the help of a bail bondsman, Vazquez again posted bond April 13 and was picked up by ICE officials.

On Wednesday, Keel signed another bench warrant to revoke the bond and return Vazquez to Harris County custody. She is now being held in Harris County Jail without bail.

"As soon as she's released," Zamarripa said, "we're going to pick her up again and put her in removal proceedings. That's what we do. That's what ICE is supposed to do."

There were no statistics available this week for cases where the defendants were deported prior to sentencing. Court administrators said the Harris County court's computer system does not track whether defendants are deported while their cases are open.

Anecdotally, court administrators singled out a handful of cases where ICE attempted to deport defendants in its custody, prompting a judge to issue a bench warrant. Those cases include defendants charged with felony drug possession, attempted forgery of a government document and evading arrest with a motor vehicle.

"I would hope we aren't giving people the choice: 'Do you want to go to prison or do you want to go to Mexico?,' " Stricklin said.

Forced to have sex

Vazquez's attorney, Joe Romero, did not return phone calls on Friday. Spence Graham, the prosecutor, also could not be reached.

Vazquez and her son are accused of paying a smuggler to bring the teenager to the U.S. in January, and then forcing her to work as a prostitute in El Club Guerrero, a bar on Wallisville Road, in northeast Houston.

The young woman told Jacinto City police that Vazquez forced her to have sex with six or seven men a night. The girl said Vazquez was paid $75 each time.

Protecting the victims

Jacinto City police found the girl March 7 after a series of 911 calls led them to Vazquez's home. She said she had tried to escape, but was locked in room with a deadbolt on the door. She has been placed in foster care, authorities said.

Wafa Abdin, legal director for Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Asssistance, part of Catholic Charities who has worked with children, said she is not familiar with the Vazquez case, but worried that deporting people facing charges could negatively impact victims.

"For the sake of our client, this is something I would advocate strongly against (deportation) because this means they could go back and take other victims," Abdin said. "I think we all have an interest in having these people prosecuted especially when it involves vulnerable children or minors."


"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave."

"...for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."

US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX)

Testimony to the House Immigration Subcommittee, February 24, 1995

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prison then deportation

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies."

Senator Barack Obama
Senate Floor Speech on Public Debt
March 16, 2006


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil

this must be the better life i've heard some speak of :whistle:

* ~ * Charles * ~ *

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.



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