Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro

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Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro covers immigration and federal courts for The Monitor. He can be reached at lzazueta@themonitor.com or (956) 683-4452.

Border Patrol deputy chief exits

Less than a year into his post as U.S. Border Patrol deputy chief patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley, Austin L. Skero II is moving “upriver” to take over as Chief Patrol Agent in the Del Rio sector, according to a release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. Skero was named deputy chief patrol agent of the Rio Grande Valley sector in late September 2019, during a large influx of migrants and asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. Skero coincidently is taking over for Raul Ortiz, who Skero replaced as the RGV deputy chief patrol agent after Ortiz left for Del Rio sector to take over as chief patrol agent — the spot Skero is now taking over. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Appeals court reaffirms border wall injunction

In a setback for the Trump administration, an appeals court ruled the administration could not circumvent Congress by transferring billions in Department of Defense funds for border wall construction, records show. On Friday, judges for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was unlawful for the Trump administration to transfer Department of Defense money, specifically military pay and pension funds, for border wall construction. The three-judge panel held that the Executive Branch lacked “independent constitutional authority to authorize the transfer of funds” — and reaffirmed a lower court’s ruling that halted construction related to those funds with a permanent injunction. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Ban on visas may impact state’s economy disproportionately

The Trump administration announced Monday the continuation of an immigrant restriction that began in April amid COVID-19 and the rise of unemployment. Proclamation 10014 was...

DHS: Restricted travel to continue at least another month

Non-essential travel will continue to remain partially restricted at ports of entry at Canadian and Mexican borders, according to U.S. Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday the continuation of the temporary travel restrictions for Canada and Mexico, according to the order. The announcement comes days before the restriction is set to expire at midnight — and nearly 90 days after it was put in place following President Trump’s announcement in March that the U.S.-Mexico southern border would be closed off to “non-essential” travelers. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Civil rights orgs sue Trump administration over public health code expulsions

In what could be a challenge to the use of public health laws to deny asylum to immigrants, the American Civil Liberties Union, Texas Civil Rights Project, and others have filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration. Filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, attorneys for the ACLU, TCRP, and others argue that G.Y.J.P., the initials for a 13-year-old girl from El Salvador, was denied asylum without due process. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Report: Pandemic may impact 850,000 immigration cases

The current backlog in immigration court and growing cancellations “will certainly increase hearing delays for months and probably years to come,” says a new report from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. According to the TRAC report, more than 365,000 immigrants have been impacted by the partial shutdown of the immigration court due to COVID-19. TRAC’s estimate of those impacted by the partial shutdown states 368,000 immigrants have been impacted by the partial shutdown that began in earnest in early March — but the report underscores that more than 850,000 immigrants could be affected by the shutdown even if the court were to open immediately. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

 Authorities identify Mercedes man found dead Sunday

Just before midnight Saturday, the wife of Gerardo Gonzalez received a call from her husband as he was making his way home from his...

Mission man pleads guilty in illegal cigarettes case

A Mission man will forfeit over $88 million in illegal cigarettes-related equipment after he pleaded true to a smuggling charge earlier this week, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Southern District of Texas. Jose Francisco Guerra, an 80-year-old Mission resident, pleaded guilty to one count of smuggling goods into the U.S. In exchange, the government agreed to dismiss the remaining charge against him, trafficking in contraband cigarettes, at the time of his sentencing. Guerra, along with Luis Enrique Vazquez-De La Cruz and Juan Carlos Teran Arteaga, was implicated in a scheme to move illegal cigarettes from warehouses in the Rio Grande Valley into Mexico, according to the complaint filed against the trio. Read the full story at themonitor.com

5 more plead guilty in drug conspiracy case

Five more co-defendants connected to a 19-person indictment have pleaded guilty to conspiracy, records show. Jose Eduardo Olvera-Guerrero, Maribel Gasser-Castillo, Pedro Enrique Sanchez-Vazquez, Gabriela Salinas and Javier Osorno-Rodriguez all pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy in the case involving drugs, money and weapons, court documents show. Filed Tuesday, the defendants join Jessica Rosas Lopez, Manuel Alonso Solis and Porfirio Luciano-Garcia, as the only other defendants to plead guilty in the multi-indictment case. Lopez, Solis and Luciano-Garcia pleaded guilty earlier in May. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Sentencing reset in meth case

McALLEN — The sentencing hearing for a man who pleaded guilty for his role in a conspiracy involving the movement of more than 150...