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luvmylabs23139
07-14-2010, 07:23 PM
Sheriff's jail guard held on immigration charges, faces deportation

A Dallas County sheriff's jail guard was arrested at work Friday morning by federal immigration officers on accusations of being in the country illegally and now faces deportation, county and federal officials said.

Maria Elvia Ross, 34, of Irving was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers sometime after 10 a.m. on civil immigration violations, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said.

He did not release details about the allegations against Ross or the nature of her immigration status.

Ross, who was hired in 2001, has most recently served on Sheriff Lupe Valdez's quality assurance team, which oversees improvements to sanitation and maintenance in the jails.

Ross' citizenship problem came to light when she underwent a background check after recently applying to become a deputy sheriff, County Commissioner John Wiley Price said.

"I think it was a shock to all of us," he said.

Price said the department should have caught any problem with Ross' immigration status when she was hired during the tenure of Sheriff Jim Bowles.

"The system we have for vetting people is a lot better," Price said.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Leach said the matter is under investigation, and she declined to comment further.

Documents relating to Ross' hiring her job application and personnel file were not available Friday.

To be hired by the Sheriff's Department as a jail guard or deputy, candidates have to be U.S. citizens. It's not only a Sheriff's Department rule but a requirement of the state licensing agency, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.

However, the state requirement only became effective in 2003, according to a spokeswoman.

Ross has a Social Security number, according to family court records.

Her state officer standards and education record shows she attended classes at El Centro College and Dallas Baptist University. She also attended the sheriff's academy before obtaining her state jailer license in 2001.

Ross, whose maiden name is Medrano, married a Dallas County sheriff's deputy, David Ross, in 2005. They have two small boys.

The couple separated in January 2009, the same month Maria Ross filed for divorce, according to court records. The divorce became final last month, records show.

Her divorce attorney, Julie Reedy, said she had no comment about her client's immigration status.

Ross was featured in the May issue of Valdez's monthly newsletter. In a photograph, she is shown surpassing the push-up requirement as she prepared with other jailers for the deputy physical fitness test.