D.A. LaHood, Immigrant Rights Groups at Odds Over Controversial Case

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood and the imigrant rights group Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) are at odds over the DA's handling of an immigrant smuggling case from last December, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Attorney Jonathan Ryan, who represents 12 illegal immigrants who were rescued from the back of a trailer, says he called LaHood and offered to testify, but was rebuffed

."That's an offense to anyone who loves justice and due process," he said.  "You cannot cover up this sort of action."

But LaHood says its Ryan and RAICES who are doing the covering-up.

"They have not cooperated with our office in order for us to make a complete assessment of the case," LaHood said.  "Numerous attempts to contact them have gone unanswered.  At this time, they have only told us 'one client can communicate on the telephone and a second may be able to communicate over a vide call.'  In any criminal investigation, to fully assess the credibility of the witnesses and verify their identities, investigators need to conduct witness inteviews in person."

Ryan said the case against the trucker has been dropped because of inaction by LaHood's office. But LaHood says the case is still active.

"Our suggestion is for Mr. Ryan to stop grandstanding and work with us so we can conduct a successful prosecution."

Ryan told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board that all of the people who were stuffed inside the truck were willing to testify before a grand jury, but LaHood ignored his offer.

"He was not able to prepare this case, he was never able to prepare this type of case before, and he did not want to prepare this case."

Ryan suggested that LaHood's pro sanctuary sentiments may have affected his judgement in this case.

"The hateful billboards littering the San Antonio highways and the statements by LaHood that his witnesses wre not avaialble simply cannot be justified by the facts," he said.

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