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Judge gets flak for turning in illegal residents

By Associated Press
Published January 19, 2004

WEST PALM BEACH - A circuit judge is being criticized for openly questioning and often reporting the immigration status of abused, abandoned and neglected children in his courtroom.

Roger B. Colton says he is just doing his duty.

"They're violating the law, and I'm a judge," he said. "Don't I have some type of obligation to the system to report it?"

At least four times since October, Colton has faxed names, addresses and birth dates of immigrant children and their families to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Barbara White, chief of the Public Defender's Juvenile Division, says it is inappropriate for judges in any courtroom to report people to law enforcement, especially vulnerable juveniles.

But legally, Colton is on firm ground, said Mike Hethmon, staff attorney for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an anti-immigration group. A recent federal court ruling in eastern Virginia supported a judge's ability to report immigration information to law enforcement, he said.

[Last modified January 19, 2004, 01:15:44]

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