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Q: I'm wondering where the illegals that were picked up near Payson went? Did they just let them loose around here?

A: As reported in the Roundup, May 5, the 15 Mexican nationals who were apprehended May 3 by Gila County Sheriff's deputies, were released to U.S. Border Patrol's Casa Grande station.

"They were processed and returned back to Mexico that same day," said Sean King, public affairs officer for U.S. Border Patrol.

According to the U.S. Border Patrol and Customs Web site, www.cbp.gov:

Illegal aliens are afforded two essential legal rights: a voluntary return to their host country or a removal hearing.

The voluntary return allows the noncriminal illegal alien to return to his/her host country without being prosecuted. A removal hearing is a formal immigration hearing in which the illegal alien seeks relief through the courts.

When an alien with a criminal record is arrested, he/she is processed for criminal prosecution. The criminal alien is tried in federal court and may subsequently be formally removed from the United States.

Call 474-5251, ext. 147, to reach Roundup's What's Up? line. Leave your question on the answering machine and we'll try to find the answer.

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