Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hillsborough police stop van of illegal immigrants (Burlington Times News)

Hillsborough police stop van of illegal immigrants

June 19, 2008 - 8:53AM
McClatchy News Service

HILLSBOROUGH -- Police on Tuesday stopped a van carrying 17 people they say are illegal immigrants.

Hillsborough officers found the van on Interstate 85 after investigating a fight at a nearby fast-food restaurant, police Chief Clarence Birkhead said Wednesday.

Police in a news release said two Texas men were fighting over a fee one of the immigrants paid to get to Hillsborough.

Yuliant Fernandez, 32, and Amilcar Tamayo, 31, both of Houston, were charged with aggravated assault and other offenses. They were turned over to federal immigration authorities, as were the other people in the van, police said.

Birkhead said officers focused on identifying the people involved in the fight. The two men arrested had Texas identification, he said. The other people didn't have ID and spoke little or no English, he said. There were men and women, and one child, he said.

Officers found evidence in the van that the people may be in this country illegally and decided to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Birkhead said.

``Ultimately, they decided it would probably be in everyone's best interest, again thinking about their well being, ... to take custody of the detainees,'' Birkhead said. ``We were very concerned about getting those other individuals to a safe location. We focused on the incident, not necessarily their immigration status.''

The van was a 15-passenger van rented in Houston, Birkhead said.

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