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Ariz. Sheriff Babeu Slams ICE Plan to Release Illegal With TB

By    |   Friday, 03 April 2015 09:29 PM

Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu Friday slammed federal immigration officials for creating a huge public risk with their plans to release an illegal alien with drug-resistant tuberculosis into the largest city in Pinal County.

"This is unacceptable — and it's reckless disregard for the public's safety," Babeu told Newsmax.

The illegal was identified to Newsmax by county health officials as a man from Mexico who has been treated at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center for the past seven months.

Florence, with about 26,000 residents, is the Pinal County seat. Located between Tucson and Phoenix, about 420,000 people live in the county, Babeu said.

"You have an obligation, because of the public-health concerns, to either hold him in custody or deport him to his country of origin," the sheriff said. "It's one or the other."

In a letter Friday to Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar warned ICE against releasing the illegal out of public-health concerns.

"There is no logical or legal justification for releasing this illegal into our communities and exposing our citizenry to a contagious and potentially lethal disease," the Arizona Republican said.

The letter was also sent to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña and was signed by the Grand Canyon State's three other congressional Republicans — Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, and Rep. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.

"If this irrational decision is being considered as result of one of President Obama’s amnesty orders, then this administration owns any deaths or illnesses, and all costs associated with releasing this disease-stricken individual," the legislators said.

Babeu told Newsmax that he has not been able to obtain any information from ICE about the illegal or his medical status. The agency this week relocated 50 Central American minors to the county who had been detained at the South Texas border, he said.

"There's the threat and concern of the public and our families' fear. We didn't sign up for this," Babeu said. "The federal government has an obligation to not deliberately, knowingly endanger the public. This would do exactly that."

Pinal County Health Director Thomas Schryer told Newsmax that the illegal is "somebody who has started and stopped TB therapy multiple times, which is why he has a drug resistance."

Any further information would have to come from ICE, which first informed Schryer of the possible release two weeks ago.

"We've been told, first off, that it's none of our business — kind of — in terms of the legal status or the legal proceedings," he said.

The medical director added that "when I push back a little bit," ICE then disclosed that a hearing was scheduled for this past Wednesday in federal immigration court on whether the illegal would be detained further, deported or released to the community on parole.

Schryer has received no word on the outcome of the hearing, leaving officials to brace for his release.

"We still don't know whether he will be paroled," he said. "We're still in the dark here a little bit — well, not a little bit, a lot."

If the illegal is released, Schryer told Newsmax that health officials would have five days to find a place where he can be housed, treated and guarded to prevent him from going out in public.

He estimated those costs to Pinal County taxpayers at $200,000 for 18 to 24 months.

"The scenario that we've been most concerned about is this concept of paroling somebody who is undocumented to our community where now, because of TB, we would be responsible for all these costs," Schryer said.

He told Newsmax that would be the first time an illegal with active TB would be released from the ICE center in his 11 years as medical director. Thirty-five cases are treated on average every year — and the illegals are usually deported upon recovery.

"If one person is released, and there's 34 others who go through that facility with active TB, is this something that we're going to see on a regular basis?" Schryer asked. "The way they described it, the legal process and the policy of the administration, it appeared that they think this is something that is going to become a normal practice.

"The facility has been here, operating all these years — and we've never had a circumstance with somebody with active TB who was released to our community or any other community in Arizona.

"I asked if this was a specific change in policy," Schryer said. "I was told that I was incorrect, that they have talked about this before.

"My point was, talking isn't the same as doing — and so, what's changed?" he added. "I couldn't get an answer to that question."

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Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu Friday slammed federal immigration officials for creating a huge public risk with their plans to release an illegal alien with drug-resistant tuberculosis into the largest city in Pinal County.
arizona, sheriff, blasts, homeland, security, release, illegal, alien, tuberculosis
Friday, 03 April 2015 09:29 PM
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