Jail Sentences Handed Down To 36 Illegal Aliens
EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ Jail terms given 36 illegal aliens from Mexico are intended as a signal to others who have found ways to get around the legal immigration process, a federal official says.
The aliens were arrested last Friday, and in what authorities described as an unsual move they were jailed instead of being sent back to Mexico.
They were convicted Monday of illegal entry and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 20 to 180 days by U.S. Magistrate Janet Ruesch.
Al Giugni, Immigration and Naturalization Service district director in El Paso, said the 36 had openly violated rules by walking past inspectors on a bridge joining El Paso and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico.
″This is not an open border,″ Giugni said. ″If you’re not a citizen, you can’t just walk across the port of entry and seek employment. These people were taking advantage of a laxness in our procedure and we decided to put a stop to it.″
The aliens were walking on the side of the bridge designed only for pedestrian traffic entering Mexico, Giugni said.
″They would come in, lunch pail in hand, and totally ignore any inspection,″ Giugni said. ″Our inspectors were busy working, so they couldn’t stop them.″
Those arrested ″were disturbed that we interupted their normal flow of business,″ Giugni said. ″They were quite puzzled when, instead of turning them loose, we decided to prosecute them.″
The INS official said he knows that not all the illegals apprehended daily can be prosecuted, because there isn’t enough jail space.
″We will keep prosecuting some periodically,″ he said.