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Arrested migrants sent to state prisons

3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago Friday, October 01 2021 Oct 1, 2021 October 01, 2021 8:43 AM October 01, 2021 in News - Local

Nearly 900 migrants sit behind bars at two state prisons after allegedly crossing into private property.

State troopers say they will continue to make arrests, but lawyers are increasingly alarmed the rights of these migrants are being violated.

After nearly 17,000 mostly Haitian migrants were removed from under the international bridge in Del Rio, the Texas National Guard announced they would be sending 70 Humvees and 1,500 troops to the Valley within the next month.

But for the past two months, hundreds of migrants detained by state troopers for allegedly entering private property on the Texas-Mexico border have been sent to the Segovia state prison in Edinburg.

Attorneys say some haven't even been charged with a crime.

"The despair that we hear from the men inside the jail of, 'I've been detained for 40 days. I haven't spoken to an attorney," said Alicia Torres, an activist who helps families find their loved ones inside state prisons.

At last count, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said there are over 200 migrants behind bars at Edinburg prison, with the great majority being Central Americans. All of the migrants were not detained in the Valley, but 300 miles northwest in Kinney County.

"So when we're talking about criminal trespass, that's a charge where often people get time served or no jail time at all,” said Kathryn Dyer, a criminal law professor at UT Austin. “And we have people that have been sitting in jail for more than 60 days, at this point."

Dyer adds that many of the migrants have passed enough days in prison and should be out free, but some have a hold with Immigration Customs Enforcement, which is keeping them behind bars.

Attorneys say the long legal wait times from Kinney County prosecutors are violating their constitutional rights.

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