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Local Governments Bear Burden of Migrants Dumped by Border Patrol

By Peek & Toland on November 26, 2019

According to a USA Today article, Border Patrol officers are increasingly dumping large numbers of migrants in border towns, including many in Texas. The large influx of migrants is leaving local governments no choice but to spend their own funds to support them.

For example, Border Patrol has delivered more than 31,000 migrants seeking asylum to San Antonio. Due to its location 150 miles from the Mexican border, the city had never dealt with a large influx of migrants and thus did not have the resources to deal with them. As a result, the city has spent more than $540,000 in local funds establishing a migrant processing center. They also provide food, medical screening, cell phones for migrants to contact U.S. relatives, and overnight shelter in partnership with local churches.

Local Governments Bear Burden of Migrants Dumped by Border Patrol

San Antonio is not the only government entity having no choice but to expend local funds to feed and house migrants. Border Patrol has delivered more than 7,500 migrants to Deming, New Mexico, which has a population of only 14,000. Likewise, San Diego County has spent $2.7 million in the first eight months of 2019 on food, medical care, and transportation for over 17,000 migrants, in addition to housing them on county property. Albuquerque, New Mexico, already was struggling to deal with a homeless population of 4,000 before Border Patrol dropped off another 4,000 migrants.

The USA Today in-depth review of the situation revealed that local communities spent at least seven million dollars over the past year to handle the influx of migrants dumped on their doorsteps by Border Patrol. Communities leaders believe they have a moral duty to care for the migrants who are largely homeless, penniless, and sick from being detained in poor conditions. Nonetheless, leaders across the political spectrum have expressed frustration over the unfunded mandate that the Trump Administration’s immigration policies at the border have created.

Our goal is to assist you with your immigration concerns, whether family or business-based. We can evaluate your situation and develop a strategy that is most likely to be efficient and effective in your case. Regardless of the immigration matter that you are facing, the attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience, knowledge, and reputation that you want and need to advocate on your behalf. When results matter most, contact us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Asylum, Immigration

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Cross Border Shooting Lawsuit is Sent to Another Court

By Peek & Toland on November 30, 2017

The question of whether U.S. Border Patrol can be held liable for the shooting of a Mexican across the border is no nearer to resolution after the U.S. Supreme Court sent a cross border shooting lawsuit back to a lower court.

In June, the Texas Tribune reported the highest court in the land sent the case involving the cross-border shooting death of a teenager back to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to be reconsidered.

In 2010, Sergio Adrían Hernández Güereca was killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent who fired his gun across the Rio Grande.

The U.S. authorities claimed the teen threw rocks. The teen was shot dead by agent Jesus Mesa Jr. The border patrol agent was on the banks of the Rio Grande in El Paso. The teen was on the Mexican side of the border, in Ciudad Juárez, when the agent fatally shot him from the Texas side.

The killing led to a lawsuit filed from Mexico. The family of the victim sued U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. government and Mesa himself.

Cross border shooting legal fight

Cross border shooting leads to legal battle

The case was dismissed by a district judge on the grounds the victim was a Mexican national who was on Mexican soil when the shooting took place.

An appellate court took a different approach in 2014. It ruled that the agent could be sued in his individual capacity although the U.S. agencies could not. A year later, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Mesa. The judges ruled the agent was entitled to immunity because Hernandez was in Mexico when the shooting happened.

We noted this drawn out legal procedure recently in our immigration blog.

The teenager’s family appealed the Court of Appeals decision in the cross border shooting case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court agreed to consider the case last October. However, in June, the Supreme Court sent the case back again to the 5th Circuit.

The justices asked the court to revisit its previous ruling in the context of other court decisions that have been decided since. The court wrote:

“The facts alleged in the complaint depict a disturbing incident resulting in a heartbreaking loss of life. Whether petitioners may recover damages for that loss in this suit depends on questions that are best answered by the Court of Appeals.”

Lawyers for the teens family argue the 1979 case of Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics supports their stance.

In the 1979 case, the court held the violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, gives that person the right to pursue a legal challenge against a federal agent.

The U.S. Fourth Amendment guarantees protection from illegal search and seizure.

At Peek & Toland our attorneys will protect your rights against the immigration authorities in Texas. Please call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Supreme Court Will Decide if Family of Mexican Boy Shot Dead by Border Patrol in Texas Has Right to Sue

By Peek & Toland on May 2, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court is to decide if the family of a boy from Mexico who was fatally shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent has a right to sue.

The nation’s highest court said it would accept the appeal from the family of the boy last October.

Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, a 15-year-old, was killed in 2010 on Mexican soil. He was shot dead by a border officer who fired his gun from the U.S. side of the border in Texas.

The agent claimed Hernandez and other boys were throwing rocks at him.

A Border Patrol officer was accused over the shooting of a Mexican boy

A Border Patrol officer shot dead a Mexican national across the border

Hernandez’s family later sued the U.S. authorities for damages. The Fifth Circuit appeals court unanimously ruled the family had no standing to sue two years ago. The teen was a Mexican citizen. He was not protected by the Fifth Amendment under its sue process clause or by the Fourth Amendment, the court said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has taken the appeal. It will also look at whether the parents have a constitutional right to sue a Border Patrol officer.

The agent in question, Jesus Mesa Jr. shot the teen in June 2010. Federal investigators said Mesa tried to arrest immigrants who illegally crossed into the United States when he was attacked by people throwing rocks. Mesa fired his weapon across the Rio Grande, hitting Sergio twice.

It has been a long process with different courts handing down contradictory decisions. In 2014, a three-judge panel a three-judge panel of the 5th circuit court in New Orleans held that the Border Patrol officer could be sued.

The judges ruled that the shooting of the teen, if proven in court, would amount to “an official abuse of power so arbitrary as to shock the conscience.”

However, in 2015, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by attorneys for the teen’s family.

The plaintiffs claimed Mesa’s immunity from a civil lawsuit was overridden by the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This guarantees the right of “the people to be secure in their persons.”

The family’s lawyers also pointed to the 5th Amendment protections against the deprivation of life without due process of law.

Our experienced Austin immigration attorneys will be paying close attention to this case, as well as other key immigration cases in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017. Many immigrants accuse Border Patrol officers of acting in a brutal and unconstitutional way.

If you need help defending your immigration rights in Austin, San Antonio, or elsewhere in Texas, call us today for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Immigration

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Texas Advocates Act for Better Treatment of Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on June 3, 2016

As Texas immigration and criminal defense attorneys, we are acutely aware of some of the challenges immigrants face in custody. The deprivations suffered by some immigrants who are imprisoned are so extreme that advocates groups are taking legal action over poor treatment.

Last month, the Austin-based publication Statesman reported on how the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and its counterpart in New Mexico have filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Homeland Security.

Pressure groups are concerned at the treatment of immigrants by the feds

Treatment of immigrants by federal agencies is under fire

The action was launched on two fronts and concerned bond conditions and the seizure of property from immigrants. The ACLU claims:

1 – Border Patrol agents are seizing the property of immigrants, before deporting them to Mexico. In many cases, they are being deported to cities where they don’t know anyone. The complaint relates to 26 people and says some of them were intimidated by officers.

2 – The ACLU of Southern California has filed a legal action to demand immigration judges and deportation agents consider the ability of individual immigrants to pay when they set a bond, in the same way as criminal courts. The ACLU alleges immigrants are being jailed because they are poor and as many as 100 immigrants a day are detained, even though bond was granted.

Advocates claim some of the seizures endangered the immigrants. The report said a 23-year-old from Chihuahua, Mexico was forced by agents to sign a form giving up his rights to his belongings, according to the complaint.

They say nearly $400 was taken from a 23-year-old woman from Guerrero, Mexico after she was detained in El Paso. Many of these immigrants make little money and have saved hard for years. The money formed a significant part of the woman’s life savings.

The Department of Homeland Security, the department that oversees the Border Patrol, said its policy is to safeguard and eventually return detainees’ property, according to the Tribune article.

We have noted in the past many attempts by the authorities in Texas that undermine the rights of immigrants who are routinely treated in ways that run contrary to public policy.

If you or a loved one has been mistreated or is facing deportation, our Austin-based family immigration attorneys can help you and would like to hear from you. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445.

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