Process for Foreigners Arrested on US Soil Explained

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PALMVIEW – A Mexican citizen was executed by the state of Texas Wednesday night.

Mexico believes the United States violated an international treaty when trying his case.

Under the Vienna Convention, when a foreigner is arrested for a crime, their consulate should be notified immediately.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS visited a police department that often comes across these scenarios. They explain sometimes it's easier to do than in others.

Palmview police frequently comes across suspects who are not U.S. citizens. Their department sits five miles from the border.

Sergeant Arnold Sepulveda said many of those arrests are Class C misdemeanors.

When this happens an international law kicks in. It states authorities, without delay, shall notify the national's consulate.

This can be a relatively easy process when suspects provide their country of citizenship.

Sepulveda said notification usually happens within 24 hours of detention. It can take longer when there is a lack of cooperation.

"If we're able to identify the person, if they carry any documentation with them, then we have to go to a different process. In which case, we take it to the nearest facility where they can be finger-printed and identified. We don't have that capability, so we rely on our federal partners to process those fingerprints," Sepulveda explained.

Federal partners like ICE or the U.S. Border Patrol can use their databases to help find the detainee's home countries.

Sometimes ICE will take custody of the detainee then the responsibility for contacting the consulate falls on them.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said notification of a detainee's rights happens when a defendant goes before a judge too.

"I feel confident that every magistrate admonishes every defendant as to their constitutional rights. We haven't had any problems since I've been in office," said Rodriguez.

The DA and police department said the notification process is being followed these days.

Mexico and the U.N. International Court of Justice said in several cases notification were not observed. They point to that of Ruben Ramirez Cardenas.

Cardenas had an appeal filed on grounds of lack of notification. The court denied his appeal in 2004.


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