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Zero-tolerance zones multiply along the border

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  • peaceandjustice2005
    elpasotimes. com http://www.elpasoti mes.com/newupdat ed/ci_8493564 http://www.elpasoti mes.com Zero-tolerance zones multiply along the border - By Louie Gilot
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 9, 2008
      elpasotimes. com

      http://www.elpasoti mes.com/newupdat ed/ci_8493564
      http://www.elpasoti mes.com

      Zero-tolerance zones multiply along the border - By Louie Gilot / El
      Paso Times

      Two Mexican brothers and their cousin were the first three migrants to
      cross the border illegally within El Paso's new zero-tolerance zone
      and the first to be jailed, prosecuted and sentenced Friday under the
      new program.

      ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------

      Zero-tolerance zones multiply along the border

      By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times

      Article Launched: 03/07/2008 05:10:04 PM MST

      Two Mexican brothers and their cousin were the first three migrants to
      cross the border illegally within El Paso's new zero-tolerance zone
      and the first to be jailed, prosecuted and sentenced Friday under the
      new program.

      José de Jesús Gutiérrez Ledezma, 36, his brother Armando Gutiérrez
      Ledezma, 35, and their cousin Juan Carlos Ledezma Velazquez, 24,
      pleaded guilty Friday to the misdemeanor "entry without inspection"
      and were sentenced to time served, which was eleven days. They were
      facing up to six months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.

      After their release, they will be formally returned to Mexico.

      The trio were caught sneaking into the United States 1.7 miles west of
      the Paso del Norte Bridge on Feb. 25, the day the Border Patrol
      launched its "No Pass" program there. Immigrants caught in between
      Mount Cristo Rey and the Paso del Norte Bridge are now jailed and
      prosecuted, Had the three men crossed a few miles north or a few miles
      east of the No Pass zone, they would have been fingerprinted, and if
      they did not have a criminal past, they would have been returned to
      Mexico within hours.

      Border Patrol officials said the success of the program prompted them
      to expand it to the Santa Teresa, N.M., port of entry starting Monday.

      "Times have changed... Things are not like they used to be," said U.S.
      Magistrate Judge Richard P. Mesa told the Gutiérrez Ledezma men at
      their sentencing.

      The migrants, standing in front of the judge in green prison jumpsuits
      with their hands shackled, declined to speak.

      "These cases are very common," their appointed lawyer, Andre Courtney
      Poissant, said before the hearing. "You're looking at people who come
      here to work. Some have relatives with medical needs. Some have family
      in the U.S. I have met the nicest people doing these cases."

      Poissant said he didn't think his clients knew about No Pass. He said
      he had to explain to them that they weren't at a immigration hearing
      but at a criminal hearing.

      In the first nine days of the program, Border Patrol agents caught 34
      adult undocumented immigrants and seven juveniles, all Mexicans, in
      the three- to four- mile No Pass stretch.

      Out of the 34 adults, 28 were prosecuted for entry without inspection,
      four were prosecuted for reentry after deportation and two were sent
      back to Mexico under expedited removal.

      The 34 apprehensions represented a big drop from the 139 undocumented
      immigrants captures at the same spot at the same time last year,
      Border Patrol officials said.

      "The publication of No Pass probably has a lot to do with that," said
      Border Patrol spokesman Ramiro Cordero.

      The apparent success of No Pass prompted the Border Patrol to expand a
      similar zero-tolerance program in New Mexico called "Lockdown." That
      program started in December between Mount Cristo Rey and Sunland Park
      and will expand to the Santa Teresa port of entry Monday.

      Similar programs are also ongoing in Arizona and the Rio Grande Valley
      in Texas, under the name "Streamline. "

      The idea behind these initiatives is that jail time will deter
      migrants from attempting to cross illegally.

      But critics said prosecuting immigrants who have no criminal
      background is costly to the taxpayer and only serves to crowd jails
      and burdened courts.

      The cost to the taxpayers is hard to gauge, but Poissant, a Criminal
      Justice Act panel attorney who picks up indigent cases overflow from
      the public defender's office, said the government pays him $100 an
      hour for those cases.

      Late Sheriff Leo Samaniego said in 2005 that it cost about $58 a day
      to housing an inmate in the El Paso County Jail.

      Louie Gilot may be reached at lgilot@elpasotimes. com, 546-6131.

      Copyright © 2008 by the El Paso Times and MediaNews Group and/or wire
      services and suppliers.

      http://www.elpasoti mes.com/newupdat ed/ci_8493564
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