Detained illegal immigrants draws criticism

February 25, 2008 9:31:30 AM PST
Public defenders in Houston are criticizing the recent arrests of illegal immigrants who were pulled out of airplane lines when attempting to fly home to their native countries. Since July, at least five people have been arrested at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport while trying to board planes headed to Mexico, Honduras or El Salvador. That's according to Customs and Border Protection officials. All five had been deported previously.

Federal public defenders who take on these cases call the practice a waste of time and money.

U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle defended the practice, saying that if authorities allowed illegal immigrants to leave without punishment, it would minimize government efforts to control the border. DeGabrielle also described the five defendants as repeat violators of U.S. immigration laws.

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