Dispute over handling of illegal immigratns

February 16, 2010 1:27:26 PM PST
Pasadena police investigating a disturbance arrested a half dozen alleged illegal immigrants, but the suspects were released. Police were called to the Tropicana Motel on Red Bluff Road Friday night to investigate a report of two men fighting. When officers arrived, about a dozen people scattered into the surrounding neighborhood. After a foot chase, officers were able to detain five men and one woman.

Pasadena police spokesperson Vance Mitchell says the suspects admitted they had recently entered the country illegally. They told officers the "coyote" who had smuggled them into the US left them at the motel, and was expected to return to take them to other states.

Pasadena police contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to request an immigration investigation, Mitchell said, but ICE declined to investigate due to the low number of suspects. Since ICE was not pursuing immigration charges, police released them without charges.

ICE officials, however, tell Eyewitness News they were prepared to respond, but that Pasadena police had already released the suspects.

We worked on this story with the help of the Pasadena Citizen, our Houston Community Newspaper partner.