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General Interest General Interest

RGV Sector brings in nearly 150 seasoned agents to help secure border

20140724 Anzalduas Park Illegals Custody lg-10McALLEN – One hundred and fifty experienced Border Patrol agents have arrived to the Rio Grande Valley Sector to bolster targeted enforcement efforts and supplement current manpower.

“All part of the South Texas Campaign, Customs and Border Protection has brought seasoned Border Patrol agents with a wealth of knowledge and experience that will prove valuable in securing the border,” said Chief Patrol Agent Kevin Oaks. “They are well-trained and equipped with the skill-set necessary to operate in a border security environment.”

This risk-based approach enhances enforcement efforts and aims to disrupt and degrade criminal organizations that are responsible for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs throughout the South Texas Corridor. The ongoing increase in additional agents gives local field commanders the ability to deploy resources to areas where the risk is greatest. Experienced agents from other sectors are able to perform processing duties and other tasks, which frees up local tenured agents to provide security along the immediate border.

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Sheriff Candidate forum held at UTPA

20140723 SHERIFF CANDIDATE FORUM UTPA JMB 4250Six candidates seeking their party’s selection to be on the November ballot to elect a new Hidalgo County sheriff appeared at a candidate forum hosted by the UTPA Department of Criminal Justice at the Edinburg university campus Wednesday afternoon.

Seeking the Democratic Party’s selection to appear on the ballot this fall are Juan Gonzalez, Eddie Guerra, Frank Guerrero and Geovani Hernandez.

The sole Libertarian nominee is Vince Ousley and the only Republican candidate attending the forum was Al Perez. Israel Pacheco, who was seeking the Republican’s spot on the ballot is said to be ineligible.

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Hospital district to be on November ballot

Hidalgo-County-SealState Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa addressed Hidalgo County Commissioners in their Tuesday, July 22, meeting, telling them creation of the proposed hospital district is required if the county is to receive proper funding for indigent care. The state legislature met in Austin recently to approve placement of a hospital district on the November ballot.

Hinojosa said the hospital district would create a new tax that would be capped at $0.25 per $100 valuation. Estimates of the tax had been as much as $0.75 but Hinojosa said that amount would not happen. But it will not start at $0.25, he said. The proposal is a tax of $0.08 to $0.10 per $100 valuation. This tax will raise funds to take the place of the annual $8 million of the budget the county must now pay for indigent health care as this cost would be taken over by the health district. When the hospital district is created the county could then lower county taxes or use that money for other purposes.

The senator said Hidalgo, Cameron and Web Counties are without a hospital district, like most areas receiving money for indigent health care. Many large metropolitan areas have an entire hospital dedicated to indigent care. Valley counties work with private hospitals, as there are no public hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley.

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Sheriff candidates sound off in forum

20140718 Sheriff-Candidates featureThe fate of the office for the top law enforcement officer in Hidalgo County could lie in the hands of 53 people.

It creates a much different challenge for candidates looking to get on the November ballot. Lupe Treviño, former sheriff, who was reelected in 2012, abruptly resigned from office in March and subsequently pleaded guilty to laundering drug money. The commissioners court appointed Pct. 4 Constable Eddie Guerra to the spot to serve until January.

Because Treviño resigned after the March primaries, it’s up to the precinct chairs in a heavy democratic-voting county to choose candidates to run for the seat in the November election.

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Chief appraiser: County following state formula on mobile home property values

Hidalgo-County-SealAfter protesting, Winter Texan Dale Miller was able to get the property appraisal on his mobile home at Paradise Park in McAllen nearly cut in half, but he fears other Winter Texans won’t be so lucky.

In order to protest appraisal values, property owners must show up for a hearing during the summer, during the off-season.

But in a recent meeting with the Hidalgo County Chief Appraiser Rolando Garza and the OWLS (Objective Watchers of the Legal System), Miller was told the county is following state law.

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Most agree on protecting children in immigration debate

20140718 BP-PatrolAs unaccompanied children from Central America continue to flock to the United States, most people on both side of the debate on what to do with them seem to agree on one thing–the children need to be protected.

In a vigil at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, young adults who came to the United States illegally as youths, pleaded the plight of the children, saying their lives had been turned into a political game.

Cristina Jimenez, co-founder of United We Dream, which organized the vigil, came to the United States at the age of 13 with her family as they fled political turmoil in Ecuador.

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County Health Department denies immigrants bringing many diseases

Hidalgo-County-SealEddie Olivarez, health and human services chief administrative officer for Hidalgo County, denied reports that many immigrants are bringing communicable diseases such as measles and swine flu into the United States at a Tuesday meeting.

“There have been less than 10 cases of chicken pox and no cases of measles found among the immigrants processed at the McAllen immigration center,” said Olivarez, in spite of reports to the contrary by the media. “There are cases of lice and scabies people have picked up during their long walks. But those are minor problems and not life threatening. People do not need to fear some epidemic disease will start at the center and spread throughout the community.”

According to Olivarez, the doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners that are working at the center are checking people as they come in and vaccinating them against communicable diseases. But most medical care was related to cuts, sprains and bruises the people acquired walking to get to the Valley. He said the medical problems being faced are not as large as some in the media have portrayed them.

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Minors stir immigrant debate

20140702 Anzalduas-Park BP-Comm-visit AF  8906 featureBishop Mark Seitz, of El Paso, emphasized the violence unaccompanied minors flooding the Rio Grande Valley are trying to escape in their home countries in written testimony to the Homeland Security Committee.

“With the increasing numbers of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, we must understand who these children are, what is propelling them to travel alone on an increasingly dangerous journey, and what can be done to best address their welfare,” Seitz said at the hearing last week.

Seitz spoke of a 16-year-old girl from El Salvador who said she lived happily with her family until the day she saw a classmate shot by gang members on his way home from school. That’s when members of the gang began threatening her, Seitz said, adding the gang also tried to recruit her. She was beaten and threatened with a machete.

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