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Border Patrol regularly searches bus stops
Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — At certain times of the day, the patrons at the Circle K at 1826 W. Tyler can come face-to-face with undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Border Patrol agents inspect passengers and documents at bus stations and popular bus stops before buses roll out of the Rio Grande Valley, in addition to conducting searches at bridges and checkpoints.

“We look to see if they have illegal documents and then take them into custody,” Border Patrol Spokesman Roy Cervantes said about the bus checks.

Thursday, agents took Gustavo Castillo Ferretiz into custody at the Harlingen convenience store after a routine check of passengers’ documents. Ferretiz was a passenger on a Tornado Bus headed to Houston.

“(Border Patrol) has been doing checks for years,” David Puente, an operator for Tornado Bus Company, said in Spanish. “They usually catch someone every two to three days. Today was one of them.”

Puente said most people like Ferretiz, who leave Mexico trying to reach northern cities, usually obtain “crooked” documents to get them past border officials, and buy a $30 bus ticket to Houston or Florida.

“Before they decide to come here, illegals buy crooked visas and forms at the bridge that give them permission to go further than the visa allows,” Puente said. “(Ferretiz) must have had pretty good ones because he used them to get past the agents at the bridge and the bus station in Brownsville.”

In order to cross the border, Mexican citizens are required to apply for a visa at the American Consulate’s office, which allows the applicant to go beyond 25 miles of the border. Those who wish to travel further, such as to Houston, need to apply at the bridge between the Mexican and U.S. border for a permission form to leave the area, Cervantes said.

“People apply at the bridge for the permission documents,” he said. “Our agents do document checks and know specifically what to look for to tell if they are real or fake.”

Puente said although the permission documents obtained at the bridge are only $6, the process and documents required to obtain one cause most potential illegal immigrants to buy fake papers.

“They ask for a lot of documents that include bills and address verification,” he said. “Because this is a lot, people buy fake ones.”

Although Ferretiz’s fate is not known, after his arrest Thursday, he will more than likely be deported after serving a sentence for either possession of illegal documents or illegal entrance, Cervantes said.

“Once (illegal immigrants) are picked up and charged, usually, with presenting false documents, they come to the nearest station for processing,” Cervantes said. “This takes a few hours and then they go before a federal judge who sentences them to either jail time or a suspended sentence, depends on the judge. After they serve their sentence, they are deported and it goes on their criminal record.”

Posted on May 05, 06 | 12:00 am