A news release published by Immigration and Customs Enforcement only a month ago details how 11 members of the extremely violent transnational gang, MS-13 were indicted for a series of serious crimes – indeed some of the most serious crimes an individual could be charged with. The victims of these crimes were violently attacked. Some were stabbed while others were shot. Some of the victims of these thugs died because of their injuries.
What is beyond my comprehension is how ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) could post a news release without making a single reference to the immigration status of any of the 11 alleged members of MS-13 especially when the news release identified MS-13 as being a “transnational gang!”
Not a single word was written about the nationality of any of those who were arrested. Not a single word was written to describe any possible immigration law violations. Not a single word was written to make note as to how any of these “transnational” criminals entered the United States.
Here is the paragraph that appears in the news release that describes the transnational nature of MS-13:
“Today’s indictment is the product of tremendous cooperation and efforts of HSI special agents and local law enforcement officers. As a result, these violent gang members will now be brought to justice to face very serious federal charges,” said Executive Associate Director James Dinkins of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “HSI is committed to enhancing the public safety of the residents in the national Capitol Region by attacking and dismantling transnational gangs such as MS-13.”
As I have previously noted in other commentaries I have written about the long list of failings of the federal government to address the importance of enforcing immigration laws- when the agency that bears the primary responsibility for enforcing our nation’s immigration laws ignores those immigration laws, you know our nation is in extreme trouble!
The immigration laws of our nation are intended to prevent the entry of aliens into our country whose presence would be harmful to our nation and our citizens. It is a certainty that the transnational criminals who were discussed in this news report not only represent a threat to the well being of our nation and our citizens is not mere conjecture but have been established by virtue of the nature of the crimes for which they stand accused. If ICE is ignoring the immigration status of these thugs then it must be presumed that they may not even make the most rudimentary efforts of lodging detainers for those suspected gang members if they are determined to be illegal aliens so that no matter the outcome of the criminal proceedings- likely involving trials, they will be removed (deported) from the United States after they complete their jail sentences presuming that they are found guilty or that they will be removed even if they are found “not guilty” at trial.
Additionally, it is entirely possible that if any of these defendants are illegal aliens that they may have also violated other laws that involve their immigration status. For example, if an illegal alien is found to be in possession of a firearm, such a violation of law can easily be prosecuted on the federal level under the auspices of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(5). The maximum penalty for this crime is ten year in jail. I made a significant number of arrests when I was a federal agent and the elements of the crime are extremely easy to prove. Other members of transnational gangs may have also been previously deported and then reentered the United States without authority. If such an alien has a prior criminal conviction that resulted in that alien’s deportation, then that crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years of incarceration. This crime is even easier to prove than the firearms charge I noted previously.
The problem is that if ICE did not even think to discuss the immigration component of these cases, then I have to presume that ICE is ignoring these charges.
Additionally, as I have noted on many previous occasions, when an individual is arrested for any crime, the next issue that has to be addressed is the issue of appropriate bail that should be set. While it is very likely that a murder suspect may be held without bail, others of these criminal suspects may not be charged with crimes of that magnitude. A bail hearing generally only deals with two issues- danger to the community and risk of flight. Danger to the community can be shown by the nature of the crime that the person stands accused of. Risk of flight is often far more nebulous and difficult to demonstrate to a judge or magistrate. However, often information about a defendant’s immigration status and relating factors, such as information contained in a defendant’s immigration file can very often provide conclusive and compelling evidence of risk of flight. As an INS special agent, I was often called upon to testify at bail hearings. When I was able to provide evidence of previous instances when a defendant was encountered by immigration authorities and provided multiple false names and utterly fictitious addresses, it quickly became evident that the defendant in question presented an extreme risk of flight. This could be bolstered when I was able to provide specific instances when the defendant posted bond in an immigration case and then forfeited the bail and failed to show up for hearing.
The point is that the immigration component of these cases is extremely important and yet, there was no mention in the press release about the citizenship or immigration status of any of the 11 defendants who are accused of belonging to a pernicious transnational gang. Here is how the press release described the gang:
“According to the indictment, MS-13 is a transnational gang with members in most of the states within the United States, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. It is alleged that MS-13 engages in racketeering activity to include murder, narcotics distribution, extortion, robberies, and obstruction of justice, among other crimes.”
The most fundamental question that must be asked is why was there not a single mention of immigration in a press release that was issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Even if any of the defendants are citizens of the United States, given the fact that the press release noted that MS-13 has members in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico in addition to the United States, then the press release needed to address the issue of citizenship. This failure is unacceptable!
Now I also want to take this opportunity to illustrate many of the points I have been making about the extreme importance of the enforcement of our immigration laws.
One of the lies that are often told by those who oppose the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws would harm community policing. They say that if the immigration laws are enforced illegal aliens would be afraid to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. What is ignored is the fact that there are visas that can be provided to illegal aliens who fall victim to criminals and that there are visas that can be provided to those illegal aliens who cooperate with law enforcement authorities. Meanwhile the criminals use the tactic of intimidation to keep members of the immigrant community from cooperating with police or other law enforcement officials. Consider this paragraph from the news release:
The indictment details stabbings, beatings, assaults and murders from 2008 through 2010. It alleges that some defendants participated in assaults against persons they believed to be rival gang members, threats against persons they believed to be cooperating with law enforcement, and extortions. The range of criminal activity includes acts in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and other states. The indictment also alleges that there was frequent contact between MS-13 members in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and El Salvador and that persons incarcerated in El Salvador encouraged or ordered assaults and murders.
The news release also substantiates a couple of other issues I have frequently raised. Because these gangs are “transnational” they have cohorts in their home countries who can do harm to family members of immigrants in the United States if they refuse to cooperate with the criminals or if they witness crimes and may go to the police to provide information. Furthermore, members of transnational criminal organizations are also able to easily flee from the United States if they become convinced that their criminal competitors are a threat or, especially, if they come to believe that they are about to be arrested by local police or other law enforcement authorities.
Another important point is that the need to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws has nothing to do with racism. The most likely victims of transnational criminals are members of the immigrant community and often are of the same ethnicity. Consider this paragraph that details the murder of a 14 year old boy:
Among other charges, the indictment charges Hector Diaz-Flores with the December 12, 2008 murder of 14-year-old Giovanni Sanchez, whose body was found in a roadway near 14th and Newton Streets NW, in Washington, D.C. Diaz-Flores previously was indicted in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on charges of second-degree murder while armed, conspiracy, and gang-related and weapons offenses stemming from the slaying.
The security of our nation’s borders and the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws are vital if our nation’s security is to be protected and if the lives of our citizens and others who live within the borders of our nation are to be protected.
It is disturbing that ICE apparently did not think that the immigration component of this case was newsworthy.
The federal government has sued the politicians, including the governor of Arizona for daring to enact an immigration law that essentially parallels the federal immigration statutes. This past summer, Secretary of State Clinton sent a report to the United Nations boasting about the lawsuit as a means of demonstrating the federal government’s concerns about “human rights” and the enforcement of our immigration laws appear to be little more than an afterthought.
The time has long since come for the federal government to place far greater emphasis on the immigration laws.
It is unacceptable that the appearance was created that the immigration law violations were little more than afterthoughts to the leaders at ICE who wrote the press release.
The purpose of our nation’s immigration laws is to prevent the entry of aliens into our country whose presence is harmful to our nation and our citizens. When aliens manage to enter our country in violation of law or otherwise violate the terms of their admission into our country, the immigration laws are supposed to provide a lawful remedy in the removal of those aliens from our country.
This mission is, arguably, one of the most important of all missions that are supposed to be carried out by our federal government.
Nothing less than the security of our nation and safety of our citizens hang in the balance!
A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls!