FIRST ON CBS7: Details released about illegal migrants in county official's car

Published: Mar. 16, 2019 at 2:22 AM CDT
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The names and other details are being released of the three migrants from El Salvador found in a county attorney’s car in January.

Jeff Davis County Attorney Teresa Todd was found with three undocumented migrants in her car on Jan. 28th.

Todd’s attorney, Liz Rogers, told CBS7 on Friday that the three migrants from El Salvador are siblings, and during their around 70-mile trek from Presidio to near Marfa, one of them came down with an illness.

Rogers said 18-year-old Esmeralda Sarai Orellana-Lazo , 20-year-old Francisco Esteban Orellana-Lazo, and 22-year-old Carlos Saul Orellana-Lazo were walking for several days without food or water.

Todd told CBS7 exclusively that she was being a Good Samaritan, and didn’t do anything wrong when she stopped to let three people who were walking along the road near the Jeff Davis- Presidio County line into her car.

But Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez said he believes Todd knew what she was doing and broke the law by transporting the undocumented migrants.

Todd was stopped by a Presidio County Deputy who saw her car leaving the area. Sheriff Dominguez said the deputy was responding to that area because another person called about a man walking alongside the road needing assistance.

The sheriff told CBS7 previously that the deputy discovered the three were in the county illegally, and so U.S. Customs and Border Protection was called to take control of the situation.

The sheriff said Todd made calls to try to gain the migrants asylum. Dominguez added that several hours later Todd was released by CBP agents. The next day, Todd hired Alpine-based attorney Liz Rogers.

On Friday, we learned more about the identities of those migrants and the status of the case.

Teresa Todd’s attorney Liz Rogers said three migrant siblings from El Salvador experienced the elements for days.

“They indicated that they were giving up because they were lost, and they had walked all the way from Presidio and they had been arrested north of Marfa, which is about 70 miles,” she said.

Rogers said the migrant siblings didn’t have food or water and Esmeralda Orellana-Lazo became sick.

“The nurses tell me the one woman, she’s the 18-year-old, she was suffering from Rhabdomyolysis, and that’s when your body starts shutting down to die. Your muscles are turning against you because of dehydration,” she said.

Rogers said at some point, after U.S. Customs and Border Protection took the siblings into custody, the El Salvadorian was taken to Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine. Two days after she was taken there, Rogers visited the migrant.

“She was really weak, in fact, I was kind of shocked. Because I knew she was young, and I’d hoped she could rebound. But she was really very very wobbly, weak, hard to walk, when she was coming out of the shower. She had the catheter still on, the nurse just said ‘ooh this lady was in bad shape,” the attorney said.

Within the last several weeks, the migrant brothers were charged with illegal entry. Supervisory Assistant Federal Public Defender Chris Carlin of Alpine is representing the siblings.

In an interview with the Big Bend Sentinel, Carlin said the brothers have been admonished as material witnesses, and the trial date of April 1st was set because there wasn’t an advantage to them entering a plea.

Rogers said the Pecos Federal Grand Jury convened Thursday and to her knowledge, Todd was not indicted.

CBS7 contacted the office of Carlin, and multiple officials at the Texas Western District Court for additional comments and have requested court documents, but was unable to provide them by print date of this article.

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