Illegal Immigrant Releases Across The U.S. Raise Questions In Permian Basin 3/3/13
CBS 7 News Reporter
March 2, 2013
With county prisons across West Texas housing illegal immigrants, it's a topic that hits home.
The release follows talk of budget cuts and the ongoing sequester.
How can the federal government release these prisoners?
A Permian Basin immigration lawyer says most are awaiting trial.
"Some of them have been subject to mandatory detention, some not,” said Mike Borland of Borland and Borland. “I think immigration and customs always has discretion to release someone if they chose to do so."
We spoke with a number of county sheriff's--they confirm that if federal authorities do request releases, counties generally must agree.
Meantime, the Winkler County Sheriff says he doesn't see a release in sight.
They hold 57 federal prisoners--most of them illegal immigrants.
"I talked to federal officials as early as today, they say we will continue to enforce the immigration laws,” said Sheriff George Keely. “The jails are going to continue to hold them."
Keely says for the most part--the prisoners in question are harmless.
"They are good people, most of them come here to work,” said Keely. “But it's unfortunate for them because the law says if you come here illegally, you're going to get prosecuted and that’s the law.”
Sheriff Keely says the only large-scale release he could foresee would happen if the president or lawmakers made major changes to immigration law.
Federal Prisoners are housed at a number of county jails across the country.