Erin Sheridan

Erin Sheridan is a reporter for the Brownsville Herald. She covers crime, plus state and federal courts. She can be reached at or (956) 982-6609.

Hispanic Caucus tours migrant camp

A delegation of congressional leaders followed U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, into Matamoros to witness conditions in the camp of asylum seekers just past the Gateway International Bridge on Friday. The coalition, consisting of various members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, saw a version of the camp filled with Mexican military and federal police standing by, armed with rifles. The staircase leading up to a levee along the Rio Grande had been cleared of caked, dried mud. “Are these armed police usually here?” asked U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., before confirming that authorities were present in the camp on Friday as a direct result of the delegation. Read the full story at

Human rights protesters converge in Brownsville to stage prolonged effort

More than 100 demonstrators from across the nation walked up and down past the port of entry at the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville on Sunday afternoon. One local union leader shouted through the fence that families seeking asylum are “the same as you and I.” Outside of the tent courts — where immigration judges hear asylum cases via closed circuit television — the crowd called for an end to the “sham courts.” Read the full story at

Oliveira pleads no contest to DWI charge; ordered to seek alcohol, substance abuse treatment

Former State Rep. Rene Oliveira pleaded no contest to his 2018 DWI charge in county court in Brownsville this morning. Oliveira appeared before County-Court-at-Law No....

Former Gulf Cartel leader enters guilty plea

A former leader of the Gulf Cartel appeared in federal court in Brownsville on Thursday, where he entered a guilty plea on count one of an indictment charging him with manufacturing and distributing massive amounts of cocaine and marijuana. Jorge Eduardo Costilla-Sánchez appeared with his attorney before U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffs, shackles, and a belly chain. Read the full story at

Man sentenced to prison in enticing a minor case

A McAllen man was sentenced to 10 years in federal custody with a 20-year term of supervised release for attempting to coerce a federal agent posing as a 13-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity after meeting her at a public park. Dassahed Marines, 29, was also accused of ramming a vehicle driven by the special agent who was trying to arrest him. Read the full story at

Santa Rosa schools sued over sex assault case

The family of a Santa Rosa teenager has filed a Title IX lawsuit against the the city’s school district alleging that its officials failed to protect their daughter from a sexually hostile educational environment after she was repeatedly assaulted by a school employee. The suit stems from state cases being tried against Josue Cepeda, 35, and Isaac Ruben Flores, 24, former school district employees who are charged with multiple counts related to sexual relationships they pursued with female students. Read the full story at

Man pleads guilty to coordinating smuggling of 86 people

A Houston-based mechanic pleaded guilty to charges related to coordinating a human smuggling operation in which 86 undocumented people were discovered by authorities in...

Journalist’s asylum case granted closer look

A Sierra Leone journalist who appealed his rejected request for asylum was granted additional proceedings by a federal appeals court last week. Judges with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that both immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) failed to analyze the claims made by M.J. — namely that he would be killed by pro-female genital mutilation activists if he returned home to Sierra Leone. According to the ruling, M.J. fled his home country after receiving death threats for writing a newspaper article, published in December 2016, calling for the abolition of female genital mutilation. Read the full story at

Migrants, helpers face blocks to emergency care

When asylum seekers waiting in Matamoros need emergency medical care, crossing the border into the United States is never a given — despite medical exemptions in the White House’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. “When we first got started, Border Patrol told one of our doctors that ‘this will not be a thing,’” said Helen Perry, executive director of Global Response Management (GRM), from the organization’s mobile unit set up just past the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros. “When we exhaust all other resources, we have to cross these people into the United States for emergency treatment. They basically implied that we should be very careful not to abuse the system. And we’ve respected that.” The organization is the only full-time NGO set up along the border between Tijuana and Matamoros despite an estimated 60,000 asylum seekers stuck at ports of entry under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) with severely limited access to medical care. Read the full story at

Woman founding member of rights coalition

In mid-December, Joyce Hamilton walks into the bus station here. She is one of the founding members of the seven-woman coalition Angry Tías and Abuelas of the RGV. It is afternoon, and the station is filled with the hum of voices and people passing through. Hamilton, 68, is a resident of Harlingen, a retired college instructor, a grandmother, and a Presbyterian church elder. She got her start in organizing as an environmental activist. Alongside her fellow Tías and Abuelas, Hamilton has helped organize an effort to assist thousands of migrants with basic supplies, information on legal rights, travel, bond payments, and more. Read the full story at