Lawmakers call for action on released fugitive
BATON ROUGE - A group of Louisiana state legislators sent a letter to Governor Bobby Jindal recently, asking him to act "forcefully" after a fugitive from Mexico who was recently from released from East Baton Rouge Parish Prison due to a clerical error.
Bernardo Gomez, who authorities said has entered the country illegally multiple times, was in jail on drug charges earlier this month when U. S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement placed a hold on him for deportation proceedings. The day after that hold, Gomez was mistakenly released from jail.
On Tuesday, Rep. Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs) and 17 other legislators signed a letter urging Jindal to "demand immediate cooperation from ICE" in order to find and re-arrest Gomez. Hodges' letter also voiced concerns that terrorists associated with the Islamic State, currently operating in Syria and other countries in the Middle East, could use the U. S.'s border with Mexico to enter the country.
"It's more clear than ever that the border problem in Texas is now a border problem for Louisiana," Hodges said.
The letter requested Jindal also demand federal agencies provide Louisiana with a plan for identification and separation of known criminals at the U. S. border, as well as immediate deportation of known criminals caught illegally entering the U. S.
In August the governor traveled to the border to speak with agents there about more than a thousand unaccompanied children who crossed the border and are being cared for in Louisiana. There Jindal criticized the president's immigration policy and handling of the more than 50,000 children who had crossed the border recently.
A jail worker was suspended after Gomez was released. The News 2 Investigative Unit learned that Gomez had been arrested in March 2013 by Jefferson Parish authorities on cocaine charges. Then, in April 2013, U.S. Marshals arrested him on drug charges in Ascension Parish. In June, he was busted in Orleans Parish and authorities said ICE deported him back to his home country.