‘Bout fuckin’ time:
LAREDO — After pleading guilty to entering the country illegally, the Mexican immigrant from Veracruz told a federal judge here last week he came to the U.S. to earn money to pay for his mother’s funeral.
”It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to pay off funeral expenses, or take care of a sick family member,” explained U.S. Magistrate Diana Saldaña, referring to the plight of another immigrant. ”When you cross the Rio Grande, you’re going to be spending time in prison if the Border Patrol finds you — that’s the bottom line.”
The frank courtroom exchange has become a daily occurrence since Oct. 30, when the Border Patrol launched Operation Streamline-Laredo, a zero-tolerance campaign that prosecutes, jails and deports nearly every adult illegal immigrant that border agents catch.
The controversial operation has jammed local jails to capacity, strained the staff of the federal public defender’s office and sparked charges that immigrants’ due process rights are being violated. But it has been applauded by those favoring strict enforcement of immigration laws.
Before the crackdown, agents with the Laredo patrol sector routinely allowed illegal immigrants from Mexico to return home voluntarily. And a lack of detention space resulted in a ”catch-and-release” policy that allowed non-Mexican illegal immigrants to post bond pending a hearing, but few showed up for their court dates.
……The immigrants, in the same rumpled clothing they wore when arrested, were escorted up to the judge’s bench in groups of 18 or 20. After a Border Patrol officer read a charge that applied to the entire group, each immigrant called out ”Culpable” — the Spanish word for guilty.
……The judge repeatedly warned the immigrants — some of whom had been detained up to 10 times but not charged — that an arrest for a second offense could result in a more serious felony charge and a longer jail sentence.
”This whole thing about them catching you and sending you back isn’t going to happen anymore,” the magistrate warned.
……”If you ask me, they don’t come over here to commit crimes,” said Francisco Valcarcel, an assistant federal public defender who represented most of the immigrants in the session. ”I don’t think this should be an enforcement priority. Families are being torn apart.”
You have to wounder about a Federal Lawyer who’s unfamiliar with Title 8 of the U.S. Code….
……Kathleen Walker, an El Paso immigration attorney and president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the zero-tolerance operation and the limited legal representation available to immigrants denies them due process, especially those with potential claims of asylum or U.S. citizenship.
”We are throwing away the Constitution for expediency, and we’re reducing our security by not prosecuting crimes that deserve more attention, felonies like narcotic and human trafficking,” she said, referring to the crowded magistrate’s docket.
Squeeze me, but nowhere in the Constitution of the United States does it mention illegal aliens or non-citizens. As for the expediency, it’s better late than never.
But many applaud the new emphasis on enforcement at the nation’s busiest inland port.
‘We’re pleased because basically they’re enforcing the law,” said Louise Whiteford, president of the Houston-based Texans For Immigration Reform. ”It’s long overdue.”
……In the Yuma sector in Arizona, Operation Streamline eventually resulted in a 68 percent reduction in apprehensions between fiscal years 2006 and 2007, and during the same period the Del Rio sector registered a 46 percent decline, Rivera said.
……they hope (Illegal) immigrants like Sylvia Licona Garcia will warn their friends about the new mandatory jail time. She was one of 70 (illegal) immigrants, some from as far away as Kosovo and Sri Lanka, who were in holding cells last week at the Border Patrol’s north Laredo station.
Better yet Sylvia, warn them not to come in illegally.
……In the same holding area was Jaime Pinto Aguilar, a 38-year-old Nuevo Laredo man who waded the Rio Grande on Nov. 11. Pinto, who has a college degree in international commerce, said he had been unable to find a job for the past four months.
……Instead of finding a job washing dishes in a Laredo restaurant relatives told him about, Pinto spent four days in jail.
”I will not come back illegally, not for anything in the world,” Pinto said. ”I was in jail with a bunch of felons.”
Pinto’s wife, his mother and sister Anna Maria Pinto watched him receive his sentence in court.
Pinto committed a felony just by crossing the border illegally. He was in jail with his peers.
They were elated when he returned home Thursday, and predicted news of the crackdown will spread in Mexico. But they were not sure of its effect on the flow of illegal immigration.
”People will hear of these cases, but in this community every day people are crossing,” said Anna Maria Pinto. ”Immigrants are trying to get across to live the American dream, to find a job, to build a better life. But the consequences are very grave.”
The American dream isn’t stolen, it’s earned. You don’t sneak into this country, break the law, and expect us to appreciate your idea of “a better life”. I sincerely hope this catches on throughout the country. They’ll simply bypass Laredo for another path of least resistance.
Having said that, build a wall, with guard towers, trenches, sub machine guns, and thousands of border agents. The invasion must be stopped.