Central Americans Free to Leave Texas

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Thousands of Central Americans began leaving south Texas this week after a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order on Monday blocking enforcement of a new immigration policy that had kept aliens in the Rio Grande Valley. The policy, aimed at cutting down what the immigration service termed ``frivolous'' asylum applications, had required the hundreds of Central Americans crossing into the US from Mexico each week to stay in south Texas. Previously they had been allowed to move on to other cities where family or friends lived.

A hearing on a permanent injunction against the policy was set for today in Brownsville, Texas.

``Everybody happy,'' said Mario Melendez Guerrero, a Nicaraguan who had been camping out at the immigration office in Harlingen, Texas, for two weeks. Pursuing plans to join friends in Miami, Mr. Melendez added, ``Now it is true - life in the US is liberty.''

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