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Council votes to seek immigration court in Downtown Laredo

Updated: Feb 24

Article By Julia Wallace, Laredo Morning Times


Laredo City Council on Monday voted unanimously to encourage city management to take any action necessary to get an immigration court into the downtown area, preferably at the former federal courthouse at Jarvis Plaza, which the city owns.

They will also be memorializing this desire in the form of a resolution to Rep. Henry Cuellar and senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.

Currently Laredo has immigration courts for detainees who are being held at the private jails on Saunders Street and near Rio Bravo. The courtrooms are inside the jails, and judges preside via video from San Antonio. Often attorneys go to the San Antonio courts to be with the judge in person, rather than their client at the detention center.

Councilman Roberto Balli said city staff has been talking with Cuellar's office about getting a public immigration court for Laredo, but that he wants them to concentrate their time and effort on this issue.

To have an office here would be an economic development benefit for downtown, Balli said, because it would bring attorneys from all over the country to Laredo to represent their clients. Plus, the court would need two or three judges, government attorneys and office staff, which are all good paying jobs, Balli said.

He said he would like staff to get the immigration court to any downtown building, but that the former federal courthouse would be best. There is a lot of nostalgia there, and it would be good to have that building occupied, Balli said.

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