Maria Elvia Ross was a Dallas County jail guard assigned to the sheriff department's respected quality assurance team, considered an elite unit within the jails. She also, allegedly, is an illegal immigrant.
Now Ross faces deportation and Dallas County officials say they are writing new policies to make sure there are periodic checks of the legal status of non-U.S. citizens working as jailers and deputies for the sheriff's department.
The policy change is in response to Ross' arrest Friday. The 34-year-old Irving resident was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on civil immigration violations. She was released the same day. A court hearing has not been scheduled.
No one answered the door at her home Tuesday, and The Associated Press could not find a current phone number.
Ross was deported from the United States in 1998, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said Tuesday.
But by 2001, Ross had a temporary work permit and was hired by the county, said Mattye Mauldin-Taylor, Dallas County's human resources director. That was two years before a rule took effect requiring deputies and jail guards to be U.S. citizens, according to a story Tuesday in The Dallas Morning News.
Ross provided the sheriff's department with documents showing she was eligible to work in the United States each year until 2005. No one checked for additional documentation in subsequent years, Mauldin-Taylor said.
"There's not really any follow-up once they produce the documentation" when applying for a job, Mauldin-Taylor said.
Ross' immigration status was discovered recently when she underwent a background check after applying to become a deputy sheriff, County Commissioner John Wiley Price said.
The county's human resources department is creating a rule to check the work eligibility of non-U.S. citizens every year, Mauldin-Taylor told the newspaper. Frequent work-eligibility checks now will be required by the sheriff's department as well, department spokeswoman Kim Leach said.