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BP sends more agents amid unauthorized immigrant influx

By ILDEFONSO ORTIZ

The U.S. Border Patrol recently transferred 100 experienced agents to the Rio Grande Valley Sector, deploying them to intercept the rising number of unauthorized immigrants moving through South Texas.

More than 100 agents from the San Diego, Tucson and El Paso sectors joined the Rio Grande Valley Sector this past week, said Acting Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz. They’ll help fight human trafficking and drug smuggling — and the organized crime elements behind them.

“These groups victimize immigrants, whether they are ‘Other Than Mexicans’ or Mexican nationals as part of their criminal enterprise,” Ortiz said Friday at a news conference about the redeployment, using the agency’s two designations for unauthorized immigrants. “That is why we are working to combat these groups. Our agency protects the welfare of all individuals regardless of nationality.”

THE SURGE

For years, unauthorized immigrants and the coyotes who smuggled them across the U.S.-Mexico border primarily moved through Arizona. When the federal government locked down the southwestern border, many smugglers shifted toward South Texas. Continue reading here.

http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/local_news/article_81a6543c-bd3b-11e3-bedb-001a4bcf6878.html

UFW president: Farmworker conference a success despite lack of hotel near McAllen Convention Center

by Dan Santella

Some attendees noted logistical challenges at this year’s MAFO National Farmworker Conference, which came to a close Wednesday, but seemed largely pleased with the three-day affair at the McAllen Convention Center.

“If you had a hotel next to the Convention Center, it would be better, more facilities,” said MAFO CEO Heladio “Lalo” Zavala, whose organization retains the acronym for Midwest Association of Farmworker Organizations although MAFO now is countrywide.

Jose Simon Villa, CEO of East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, pointed to a lack of airline connections to McAllen.

“I’m coming from Raleigh,” he said. “Flights are limited.”

Zavala did summarize the conference positively, though, calling McAllen “a good host” and “a great city.”

The event sought to facilitate connections, Zavala said.

“For us, it was important to establish relationships here,” he said.

The conference featured breakout and plenary sessions that covered a myriad of topics, including education, financial literacy, immigration, antibiotics, housing, human trafficking and agricultural data, among other presentations.

“This is the only national (farmworker) conference that deals with a multitude of (farmworker) and rural community (issues) that impact the quality of life for migrant and seasonal” farmworkers, MAFO spokesman Rod Ritcherson said via email prior to the conference.

MAFO Chairman Lupe Martinez estimated Tuesday that representatives from upward of 25 states participated in the conference. Continue reading here.

http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/ufw-president-farmworker-conference-a-success-despite-lack-of-hotel/article_db81f4be-bddd-11e3-a2d5-0017a43b2370.html

Police chief: Edcouch alderman tried to block own arrest with restraining order

EDCOUCH — Alderman Noe Garcia Jr. has been charged with two counts of theft by a public servant and his bond was set at $20,000, said Edcouch police Chief Eloy Cardenas.

And a candidate running for another Board of Aldermen seat on the same slate as Garcia — Jose Hinojosa Jr. — also was arrested and claimed that Garcia helped him steal water worth $399 from the City of Edcouch.

Both Garcia and Hinojosa are still on the ballot for election, Cardenas said.

Garcia, who is running for re-election to his seat, is accused of stealing money two different times from the City of Edcouch.

One complaint states that Garcia carpooled to a conference in Grape Vine, Texas, in November but still cashed a city check worth $623.89 that was meant to reimburse him for gas had he not carpooled.

Another complaint states that in April, Garcia carpooled to a conference at South Padre Island with Edcouch City Manager Juan Cedillo but still cashed a check worth $70.06 also meant to reimburse him for gas had he not carpooled.

According to the complaint, Cedillo looked into the matter after an anonymous note requested that city officials look into Garcia’s spending.

Additionally, Cardenas said that Garcia filed a temporary restraining order against the city that kept him from getting arrested after the city put out a warrant for his arrest. It was signed this past Tuesday, but then overturned Friday by Hidalgo County Court-at-Law Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Gonzalez.

“Those temporary restraining orders, they’re very common for a lot of things, but not to keep you from getting arrested,” Cardenas said. “Imagine if you commit a crime and you want to come home after…Continue here: http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/article_4373def0-3aaa-11e3-99bf-0019bb30f31a.html

Progreso ISD board’s fate concealed; only 1 trustee shows up to meeting to learn TEA ruling

The Monitor

PROGRESO — The school board here was supposed to learn its fate Monday night amid the fallout of a federal corruption probe targeting a family of power brokers in the district’s administration.

But only one trustee — the board vice president — showed up to the Progreso school board’s monthly meeting, meaning the body did not have enough members present to convene.

Kevin O’Hanlon, the attorney who represents the district, said he was ready Monday to deliver the Texas Education Agency’s decision regarding disciplinary action against the board, but he could not to do so without a convened session of the board.

“I don’t think they’re dodging the press,” O’Hanlon said. “I don’t know if they’re playing quorum games, however.” A board must have a quorum to convene.

In cases like this, upon learning the TEA’s ruling, a school board typically would have 30 days to respond, O’Hanlon said. And once the board receives word, the details of the ruling become public information.

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Nathan Lambrecht

Omar Vela talks on the phone after being re-elected as mayor on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004 in Progreso. Vela, his father Jose Vela, and brother Michael Vela were arrested or corruption charges involving construction projects in Progreso Wednesday. photo by Nathan Lambrecht/nlambrecht@themonitor.com

O’Hanlon said some of the potential actions the TEA could take include:

>> reassigning the board, usually with a mix of government leaders, local citizens and local educators;

>> putting the board into conservatorship, giving the conservator veto power over board action;

>> and putting the board under monitorship, under which the monitor would report to the TEA on board activity.

In cases where corruption or felony charges are alleged, typically a board will be either entirely replaced or placed under conservatorship, O’Hanlon said.

Monday was not the first time the board hasn’t made quorum.

Superintendent Fernando Castillo — who was among 30 people who waited…Continued here: http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/article_ecbab3f8-3abe-11e3-aea3-0019bb30f31a.html

CBP agents seize more than $4.2M in narcotics

By Special to the Times

More than $4.2 million in narcotics were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection during the first three of weeks of October, the agency announced Monday.

The $4.2 million accounts for four different enforcement actions that include a total of 111 pounds of methamphetamine and 22 pounds of cocaine. During this same time period, CBP officers also intercepted attempts to smuggle cash, weapons and ammunition.

“It is … commendable to mention that CBP officers remained vigilant and poised as America’s Frontline protecting our borders throughout the period in the lapse in appropriations,” said Jose R. Uribe, CBP acting…Continued here: http://www.lmtonline.com/articles/2013/10/21/front/news/doc5265987d5e761610896634.txt

San Benito mayor’s trial begins

By FERNANDO DEL VALLE Valley Morning Star

SAN BENITO — Jury selection is set for Monday in the trial of San Benito Mayor Joe Hernandez, whom a former city commissioner accused of making a terroristic threat.

Selection of a six-member jury is expected to begin about 9:30 a.m. before Cameron County Court at Law No. 1 Judge Arturo McDonald, said Melissa Zamora, the DA’s spokeswoman.

The trial, originally set for Sept. 16, has been postponed twice.

Hernandez, who has declined comment on the case, pleaded not guilty to the Class B misdemeanor charge in a July 31 arraignment.

Raynaldo Rodriguez, Hernandez’s attorney, called the case “politically motivated.”

“We’re extremely confident with our defense,” Rodriguez said Friday. “The mayor has made it abundantly clear that this is a political witch hunt. There’s a certain group of people who want him out — want him to resign — and some people will take any means to make that happen.”

Ricardo Rodriguez, who served as a city commissioner from 1975 to 1979, declined comment.

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Dina Arevalo Valley Morning Star

San Benito Mayor Joe Hernandez, left, walks out of the Cameron County Courthouse Thursday morning in Brownsville. Hernandez was scheduled to be arraigned on charges of abuse of official capacity and tampering or fabricating with evidence.

The case stems from Ricardo Rodriguez’s complaint that accused Hernandez of making a terroristic threat in October 2012.

Ricardo Rodriguez filed a complaint with the San Benito Police Department, accusing Hernandez of threatening to burn down his home and kill him during an Oct. 27 confrontation.

The outcome of the case will not affect an agreement in which prosecutors ordered Hernandez to stay out of trouble during a one-year probationary period that stems from an October 2012 two-count indictment in an unrelated case, Zamora said.

Zamora said Ricardo Rodriguez’s case will not influence Hernandez’s December 2012 agreement because…Continued here: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_cbb6fde2-39f6-11e3-a54f-001a4bcf6878.html