Monday, December 14, 2009

Child X-ing: Del Rio's controversial crackdown on border-crossing students.

This really is the central point as expressed by Eloy Padilla, an assistant city attorney: “It really needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis,” he says. “You don’t just make blanket statements and blast it out there in the newspaper and scare the whole community.”

An important point by David Hinojosa, attorney for the Mexican American Legal & Educational Defense Fund (MALDEF): “I think it’s outrageous,” he says. “If he’s so concerned about residency, why doesn’t he go to the eastern or western boundaries of his county to see if any students are crossing into his school district?”


Child X-ing
Del Rio's controversial crackdown on border-crossing students.


t first it looked like business as usual in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Sept. 9. The line of cars on the Del Rio International Toll Bridge stretched back toward Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, as people waited to cross northward. Headlights glimmered in the dawn as U.S. immigration officers waved folks through – all except for vehicles with children, which were directed to exit to the right of the bridge.

There, Del Rio school district employees handed out fliers citing Texas educational and penal codes. “Upon conducting a check at the Port of Entry your child was observed crossing into the United State from Mexico to attend school. … Your child will be withdrawn from the school immediately,” the notices read in part. “Please come to the Office of Pupil Services … to provide proof of residence in the United States.”

About 200 notices were issued that morning. The orders had come from Del Rio’s new school superintendent, Kelt Cooper, who has made it a priority to root out Mexican residents attending school in his district. Port Director Mike Perez, who has worked at the bridge since 1979, says that previous school administrators occasionally came to the bridge with clipboards jotting down students’ names. But “it hadn’t been done for a few years,” he says. “The flier is new. I’ve never seen that done before.”

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