FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana –Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the largest provider of legal aid in Texas, presented oral arguments today before the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on behalf of a mother whose daughter was taken to Mexico by Border Patrol officials.
The case stems from the December 2003 detention and removal of Monica Castro’s one-year old daughter. Castro and her daughter are both U.S. citizens and the child’s father was an undocumented immigrant. After a domestic dispute during which Castro left her abusive spouse, she sought help from Border Patrol agents to recover her daughter. The agents informed her that they could take action against the child’s father, but would not deport the child due to her citizenship.
However, once the child was in Border Patrol’s custody, agents refused to release her to her mother. That same afternoon, government officials transported the child from Lubbock, Texas to the Texas – Mexico border where she was handed over to Mexican officials.
It took Castro three years to find her daughter and bring her home.
“Border Patrol’s actions in this case were not only illegal but outrageous. Federal agents had no authority to detain and transport a native born infant to Mexico,” said Susan Watson, attorney for Ms. Castro.
In February 2006, Castro filed a lawsuit against the United States due to Border Patrol’s actions. In February 2007, the Federal District Court in Corpus Christi, Texas dismissed the case. Castro appealed this ruling to the Fifth Circuit where Watson presented the case today.
“Border Patrol agents acted illegally in this case,” added co-counsel Javier Maldonado from San Antonio. “The courts must reaffirm that federal agents are bound by our Constitution.”
Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality legal assistance and related educational services.
The oral argument can be heard online on the website for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Court at www.ca5.uscourts.gov/OralArgumentRecordings.aspx.