The US Border: A Revolving Door for Illegal Aliens

Views From The Bench

July 9, 2015

As Americans, we are deeply concerned with the number of illegal aliens (particularly criminal aliens) who are physically removed from the United States, yet repeatedly return and continue to reside here with impunity. This reflects our lack of political will to enforce our immigration laws as they are written. There is a significant body of anecdotal evidence which not only establishes that our border is porous, but that it is a virtual revolving door for aliens who suffer no serious consequences for illegally reentering this country after being removed.

The most recent of this evidence is the tragic shooting death which occurred in July of this year. San Francisco authorities released the suspected murderer, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, in April after dropping the drug charges — even though federal officials had asked the city to advise them in advance of his release. On July first, Steinle was walking with her father in one of the most popular areas of the San Francisco piers when she was shot and killed by Lopez-Sanchez who had not only a lengthy criminal history, but had been deported FIVE times and subsequently illegally re-entered the United States. This case has caused a national outcry over San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policies and the Obama Administration decisions to withdraw from the Secure Communities program.

On July 8, 2014, a Fox news channel program interviewed Sheriff Paul Babeau of Pinal County, Arizona who reported that the federal government had released criminal illegal immigrants into his county. The sheriff stated that his deputies had arrested individuals who had already been deported ten or fifteen times. DHS current “catch and release” policies contribute to this predicament.

The Annual Report of the Department of Homeland Security, dated September 2014 and entitled Immigration Enforcement Actions 2013, provides some startling statistics. Section 241(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that when an alien departs the United States under an order of removal and illegally reenters the United States, the alien may be removed on the reinstatement of the prior removal order without an additional hearing before an immigration judge. The report indicates that in 2013 there were a total of 438, 421 removals and 170,247 of those removals were based on reinstatements. This means that 39 percent of all removals in 2013 involved aliens who had previously been removed. When considering DHS removal statistics, it must be understood that a large number of removed aliens are repeaters. This means that these aliens were previously counted in DHS statistical data.

The report also documents that approximately 198,000 aliens removed in 2013 had criminal convictions. This figure represents about 45% of the total removals. The most common categories of crime were immigration-related offenses, dangerous drugs, criminal traffic offenses, and assault.

Maricopa Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio also reported on a Fox news show on October 27, 2014 that in an eight month period his department turned over to ICE 4000 people held in jail for state crimes. Of the 4,000, some 36 percent came back. He stated that one alien came back 25 times. He also stated that the border was so dangerous that law enforcement officers don’t dare cross into Mexico.

Statistics alone do not sufficiently exemplify or personify the human tragedy and havoc created in our society by these returning criminal illegal aliens. An October 27, 2014 Tampa Bay Times article reported that a man suspected of killing two deputies in a shooting rampage in northern California had been deported to Mexico twice and had a drug conviction. Despite giving a false name to investigators, biometric records in a federal database identified him to be Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte. His past immigration records showed that he was first removed from this country in 1997 after being convicted in Arizona for possession of narcotics for sale. He was again arrested and returned to Mexico a second time in 2001.

An equally egregious consequence of this revolving door criminal alien reentry syndrome is the tragic shooting death of a former Marine and off duty Border Patrol Agent, Javier Vega, Jr and the wounding of his father. Two men facing capital murder and aggravated theft charges resulting from this incident also have lengthy criminal and immigration histories. Gustavo Tijerno was arrested and deported four times between 2007 and 2010 for entering the US illegally. The minimal sentences he received for his prior illegal entries did nothing to dissuade him from entering a fifth time to continue his criminal pursuits. His partner in crime had previously been deported twice for entering the United States illegally. The sheriff suspects the two men had connections to drug cartels and gangs.

These examples are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the porosity of our southern border. Nationwide, the number of people prosecuted for coming back illegally after being deported has increased by 175 percent since 2005, according to a report by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, which gathers and analyzes data from public agencies. According to the TRAC data, prosecutions for the crime of illegal reentry is at an all-time high in the federal district courts. The average sentence length for illegal reentry offenders was 18 months in fiscal year 2013 (with a median sentence of 12 months). This represents a 14.3 percent decrease since 2009, when the average sentence for illegal reentry offenders was 21 months.

We note with great chagrin that this administration has failed to address the issue. It has held no public hearings. It has not instigated any investigations to seek improvement of border enforcement policies or give support to our beleaguered border patrol agents in their frustrated attempts to secure our border. In sum, the administration has not sought to end this revolving door criminal alien reentry disaster. President Obama’s continuing promises of amnesty and threats of expanded administrative amnesty for illegal aliens does nothing but encourage more illegal immigration and more illegal reentries.

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