He’s the man seen at the side of El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar, her husband Michael Pleters, a former assistant U.S. attorney and a newly-appointed federal immigration judge.
Immigration is a topic often in front of El Paso Commissioners Court. One particular debate that keeps popping up: Should the County keep its contract to house federal inmates?
That includes immigration inmates.
Escobar has been on the record in favor of keeping the inmates and keeping that contract.
“I think the public knows how strong I am in my positions,” she told NewsChannel 9.
Escobar said when it comes to her support for the inmate contract, it’s important to clarify that the contract is with the U.S. Marshals Service.
Escobar also said her husband wouldn’t benefit from keeping the agreement in place because the type of federal inmates housed by the County are freshly-arrested and have yet to see a judge, immigration or otherwise.
“There’s no conflict,” Escobar said. “There’s no collaboration between the County and the immigration judges themselves. There are multiple immigration judges. So, there’s no relationship.”
El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal told NewsChannel 9 she sees no issue with Pleter’s appointment.
“I can’t think of any legal problem in (Escobar and Pleters) being married to each other,” Bernal said.
Dr. Richard Piñeda, a UTEP political science professor, said the problem for Escobar could be in the optics, especially as the County Judge mulls a run for Congress.
“If the Judge declares her candidacy for this congressional seat, this will be one of the issues that will be talked about,” Piñeda told NewsChannel 9.
That said, Piñeda added that any potential opponents of Escobar’s, could open themselves up for attack should they choose to make Pleters’ appointment a campaign issue.
“Once you move to the spouse, you open up the space for the person you’re running against to do the same thing to you,” Piñeda said.
“I think that’s a real risk.”