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Immigrant detained at MTC's Willacy County Processing Center escapes, is quickly captured


immigrant detained at MTC's Willacy County Processing Center escaped briefly on Tuesday, drawing a response by local and federal law enforcement officials, according to a story by Michael Barajas at the Valley Morning Star ("Detainee escapes from agents during doctor's appointment," September 1),

Local police and federal agents searched the Harlingen area Tuesday morning for a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainee who escaped from agents during an appointment at a local doctor’s office.

Jose Morales Rodriguez, a 34-year-old El Salvador national, escaped from federal custody while at a local doctor’s office, ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said Tuesday. She did not release the name of the office from which Rodriguez escaped.

ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents along with officers from the Harlingen and San Benito police departments searched the area for the escaped detainee for roughly an hour and a half Tuesday morning. Rodriguez was found hiding in the brush along Helen Moore Road shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday, she said.

Rodriguez, a detainee at the Willacy County ICE detention facility in Raymondville, was at a scheduled doctor’s appointment, routine for some detainees, Pruneda said. She did not explain how Rodriguez evaded authorities, saying ICE is currently investigating the incident.  Rodriguez has no known criminal convictions or arrests, Pruneda said.

The Willacy County Processing Center is MTC's notorious "Tent City" detention center, which last week was highlighted by a Human Rights Watch report on sexual assualt in detention centers.

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