Patterico's Pontifications


Deport the Criminals First: Part Nineteen of an Ongoing Series — How the Policies of One of the Fired U.S. Attorneys May Have Killed Ivan Santos

Filed under: Deport the Criminals First,General,Immigration — Patterico @ 12:04 am

[“Deport the Criminals First” is a recurring feature on this blog, highlighting crimes committed by illegal immigrants — with a special focus on repeat offenders. I argue that, instead of arresting illegal immigrants who work hard for a living, we should use our limited immigration enforcement resources to target illegal immigrants who commit crimes in this country.]

Back in March, in discussing the Great U.S. Attorneys Firing Scandal, I noted U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton’s overly restrictive guidelines regarding the prosecution of illegal re-entry cases.

I knew at the time that this policy probably cost lives.

Now I have evidence of it.

In my March post, I noted an e-mail in which a Bush Administration official complained:

When I was in Phoenix with Jon, we met with USA Paul Charlton. Charlton told us that his office didn’t prosecute illegal aliens until they were apprehended 13 times (after the initial removal order). His exceptions to that “policy” were: aliens with aggravated felonies; alien smugglers with 12 or more people; and aliens who cross the border illegally with children not their own.

I remarked:

No, that’s not a typo. It says “13 times.” Illegal re-entry prosecutions required 13 apprehensions after the initial removal order.

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, Batman!

If that doesn’t amaze you, you’re beyond being amazed.

Here’s how that policy may have killed a man named Ivan Santos. From a September 13, 2007 story:

An illegal immigrant who’s been deported five times will be facing the death penalty for a Phoenix murder.

Now that’s a good lede.

Demetro Acosta-Uribe is accused of shooting Ivan Santos to death earlier this year.

According to police reports, Santos’ body was found in May 2007 in the front yard of a west Phoenix home. The victim had been shot to death after he was bound and his head covered in plastic wrap.

Two other men were also found on the property, restrained in the same manner. Neither had been shot, but one of the victims would have suffocated had a neighbor not rescued him.

Police allege Santos was shot and killed as he tried to escape.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s office says the case is an example of how wide open borders expose the Valley to violent crime.

Andrew Thomas said the government’s continuing failure to control the border has made Maricopa County residents vulnerable to violence.

Acosta-Uribe is a citizen of Mexico and had been deported five times.

The last deportation took place on May 7, 2004. He was also deported Nov. 21, 2003; Sept. 18, 1997; July 9, 1993; and April 29, 1998.

Jeez . . . with all of these deportations, you’d think the feds might have prosecuted him for illegal re-entry and tossed him in prison. Might have saved someone’s life, huh? I bet you’re wondering why that didn’t happen.

It all comes together when you realize that Paul Charlton was the U.S. Attorney who had jurisdiction over Phoenix from November 6, 2001 until December 19, 2006. Accordingly, he was the U.S. Attorney at the time of Acosta-Uribe’s last two deportations in 2003 and 2004 — and who, apparently, failed to prosecute Acosta-Uribe for illegal re-entry.

Demetro Acosta-Uribe shouldn’t have been free, in this country, after he was apprehended by immigration officials in 2003 or 2004. He should have been prosecuted for illegal re-entry, and sent to federal prison.

If he had been prosecuted by Paul Charlton — instead of simply deported pursuant to ridiculously lenient filing guidelines — maybe he would have been locked up, instead of committing murder.

Still think the U.S. Attorney firings were contrived? Still think they were over nothing?

Tell Ivan Santos.

13 Responses to “Deport the Criminals First: Part Nineteen of an Ongoing Series — How the Policies of One of the Fired U.S. Attorneys May Have Killed Ivan Santos”

  1. Was Demetro Acosta-Uribe arrested in Arizona in 2003 and 2004?

    alphie (99bc18)

  2. Did Charlton appear before Congress during the show trial of Gonzales.

    davod (5bdbd3)

    Simon Rios draws four more life terms
    The Fort Wayne man killed his wife and three daughters in December 2005, a few days after he abducted, raped and killed a young neighbor.

    FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Simon Rios received four more life prison terms Monday for killing his wife and three daughters, the same penalty he received for raping and killing a 10-year-old neighbor, then dumping her body in Delaware County.

    Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull on Monday accepted the plea agreement in the Fort Wayne slayings, negotiated after Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards agreed to not pursue a death sentence for Rios.

    Hazy (c36902)

  4. Sad as this particular case is, one has to ask, “What’s new“?

    juandos (0ecd0b)

  5. Careful when calling out the tragedy of illegal immigration otherwise the Catholic Church members will accuse you of being a bigoted, racist, nativist. Like moderate voice The Anchoress’s anger that those shouting “Illegal is Illegal” are what’s dividing the Republican party.

    If Catholics are going to demand that “Illegal” is “Legal” so that they can fill their pews with people and their collection plates with gold coins then perhaps a “Fetus’ really is “just a clump of cells” and “Abortion” isn’t “murder”

    syn (7faf4d)

  6. As a former Special Assistant US Attorney in a border District, not the District of Arizona, I have personally applied a similar type of US Attorney prosecution guidelines. Prior to 9/11 the US Government was detaining, fingerprinting and removing several hundred thousand people a year and that was in just one border district. Admittedly, the number represents removals not separate people but even a well staffed US Attorney’s Office cannot handle much more than 3,000 cases a year on top of their other work. After I left my District, increased enforcement efforts moved the problem east to Arizona.

    The problem here lies squarely with Congress and the President and not just the current ones. There has been a concerted effort by Congress and repeated Administrations to refuse to go after employers and a look the other way attitude for everyone else until they actually commit a crime here. Now, the Government defense is that problem is just too big, which is true, even Patterico acknowledges that with his suggesting of “Deport the Criminals First.”

    Also, I would note that it does not take much to have been convicted of an aggravated felony [see 8 USC 1103(a)(43) for the list] and while I agree that we do not want aliens committing crime here in the first place, a criminal record in the US is a reasonably good predictor of future criminality for a charging policy. Note that Charleton had such a policy in place at the time.

    Finally Patterico while I often agree with you – I am a prosecutor myself – there are always, always resource trade offs that we make that result in the non prosecution of someone who broke the law. Since I am not management, I do not have make that call, but that doesn’t mean it does not have to be made by someone. Sometimes, and of course by definition too often, that person who received a break goes out and commits a violent crime. Look through your years of files, I bet you have handled one yourself. Do it long enough, we all will.

    David (c893f6)

  7. David,
    What you say is true–the problem starts at the top. But at some point, doesn’t an employee have an obligation to speak up, either to the boss or to the press, or something?! Did the Arizona AG ever do that?

    I’m not sure when that point starts. I just know there is one. I know we are there now, and yet many people in government still do not speak up.

    OT, I think Bush’s stubborn refusal to stem illegal immigration and crime, or to even acknowledge it, will damage his ultimate legacy as much as his stubborn refusal to change course in Iraq until it was almost too late.

    Patricia (4117a9)

  8. Thanks for keeping on top of this, Patterico. As to the scope of the problem of illegal immigrants committing crimes, I was astounding to read a story in the DC Examiner that related that, in Fairfax County Virginia (a Washington, DC suburb) alone, there are about 4,500 illegal immigrants in jail.

    Tim K (7e41e8)

  9. Still think the U.S. Attorney firings were contrived? Still think they were over nothing?

    I don’t think they were over nothing, I think they were for ignoble partisan reasons. During its entire term of office the Bush adminstration has demonstrated no interest whatsoever in enforcing our immigration laws. Policies like Charlton’s are forced on USAs in border districts by the overwhelming volume of cases. If you want to change this you have to give the border districts more money, a lot more money. Scapegoating the USA in no way helps. In view of the above the “poor enforcement of immigration laws” justification for some of the USA firings strikes me as a ridiculous and insulting lie invented after the fact.

    Do you seriously believe that there has been any significant change in immigration law enforcement in the affected districts because of the USA firings?

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  10. If he had been prosecuted by Paul Charlton — instead of simply deported pursuant to ridiculously lenient filing guidelines — maybe he would have been locked up, instead of committing murder.

    Charlton’s words:

    “The border patrol detained approximately 577,000 illegal aliens along the Arizona border for fiscal year 2005. We have 30 prosecutors to look at those individuals to determine who merits our attention. That means there are some that go unprosecuted. What we do is focus on the most serious offenders.”

    In 2004, Charlton’s office obtained 1,488 convictions under [8 U.S.C.] ” 1326 in district court, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. This figure represents 67 percent of all immigrant convictions obtained in the District of Arizona. In total prosecutors obtained 9,172 convictions under ” 1326 across all federal district courts during the same period.

    steve (76260d)

  11. Steve’s numbers show the magnitude of the problem and that is just for 1326 (which requires a prior official removal – often aliens are VR’d, voluntarily returned which is not an order of removal).

    In looking at the numbers provided by Steve’s quote they are only talking about 1326s. Most often 1326 is charged when a defendant has a prior felony or aggravated felony because the exposure is greater. If you expanded the eligible defendants to include 8 USC 1325s (those who enter but have not been officially previously removed) or to just any 8 USC 1326 (those who have been officially removed and return but do not have a prior felony or aggravated felony) the numbers would quickly be totally unmanageable even for the largest federal prosecutor’s office.

    Patricia. At what point does one as federal prosecutor speak up? There is no need, everyone in the Department who deals with a border District knows these facts and have since well before I did this kind of work over 10 years ago. Where do you think all the numbers come from, its The United States Department of Justice. Over 10 years ago the numbers in the Southern District of California were not that different from Arizona now and the guidelines for prosecution were similar. The argument then by critics (read defense bar and Republicans) was Clinton was pressing these cases to get the prosecution numbers up so he could look tough on crime.

    Talking to the press, please. The press is not interested until you have a case like this one or a murdered police officer – think Phoenix Officer Nick Erfle. Even then, they will move on after a few articles if even more than one. The blame here lies with Congress, the President and ambivalent Americans. Certainly not line prosecutors. Prosecutors take them one, maybe even ten, at a time. Congress, the President and voters let the line get really, really long.

    Disclosure: I am still a prosecutor but do state violent crimes now.

    David (286371)

  12. Perhaps Mr. Charleton should be in the next cell to Mr. Uribe. While Mr. Uribe is serving his sentence for murder, Mr. Charleton could be covering that illegal presence thing. Someone needs to pay for crap like this; or, it will just continue un-abated.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  13. “Demetro Acosta-Uribe shouldn’t have been free, in this country, after he was apprehended by immigration officials in 2003 or 2004. He should have been prosecuted for illegal re-entry, and sent to federal prison.”

    Isn’t the punishment 6 months for the first offense and 2 years for the second? If he had been prosecuted, he’d be out at the time this murder occurred.

    amarc (10527e)

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