Today's commentary is predicated on a news release that was issued by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on February 28, 2012 to report on the successful outcome of the prosecution of two defendants who were convicted for crimes relating to narcotics trafficking and the possession of unlawful firearms.
First, let's give credit where credit is due. This case undoubtedly represents the successful conclusion of a multi-agency investigation that ultimately resulted in the arrest and conviction of two narcotics traffickers. The level of success is enhanced by virtue of the fact that three kilograms of methamphetamine were also seized along with drug paraphernalia two loaded handguns and the apparent proceeds of drug trafficking.
The law enforcement officers who participated in this investigation should be commended. Clearly this case illustrates how enforcement personnel from ICE, the DEA the Cook County Sheriff's Office were able to achieve a successful conclusion to the investigation- thereby illustrating why, contrary to the usual assertions about community policing being harmed by local law enforcement working with ICE, a collaborative approach to law enforcement can be extremely effective creating a synergy among the various law enforcement agencies to achieve success.
Now let's consider that headline on the ICE news release that described the two defendants whose sentencing was reported on in the news release as simply being "2 Indiana brothers."
Furthermore, the very first paragraph of the news release states the following:
“HAMMOND, Ind. – Two local brothers were sentenced last week and this week to lengthy prison sentences on drug trafficking and firearms charges. The sentences resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), DEA, and the Cook County Sheriff's Department.”
In case you missed it, these two defendants were described as being “Two local brothers…”
If you don't carefully read the entire news release, you will likely miss the point that at least one of these two “local brothers” is an illegal alien and incredibly, you will not find any reference to the immigration status of the other defendant in this case, whatsoever!
This is a disturbing way for ICE, the federal agency that has primary responsibility for enforcing our nation's immigration laws, to report on the arrest of at least one illegal alien.
In the past I have questioned what the term “secure” means to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano when she brags that our borders being “secure.”
The news release relating to this case does not even make note of the fact that either of these convicted drug traffickers were aliens until the fourth paragraph, but even then, the way the information is presented is troubling. Here is that paragraph:
“Special agents then proceeded to speak with Juan's brother, Jaime Ramirez-Fuentes. Jaime Ramirez–Fuentes indicated that he was illegally in the United States and had illegal firearms at his home. He gave verbal and written consent to search his home. Inside his residence, HSI special agents seized over three kilograms of methamphetamine, two loaded firearms (one of which was stolen), ammunition, $2,647.12 in cash, plastic wrapping materials, one digital scale and drug packaging materials, from his bedroom. One of the loaded firearms had a rock of methamphetamine lying on top of it when special agents seized it.”
What is troubling is that while Jaime Ramirez-Fuentes, one of the brothers who was arrested and successfully prosecuted, is said to have admitted to being an illegal alien but no mention was made as to his country of citizenship. There is nothing in the news release about the citizenship or immigration status of his brother Juan Ramirez-Fuentes who was also convicted of similar crimes. Even if Juan is a resident alien (has a Green Card) he would be subject to deportation now that he has been convicted for the crimes for which he was sentenced.
The news release also noted that two illegal firearms were seized along with a quantity of ammunition but there was no mention that either of the two brothers were charged with violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(5) a section of law which deems the possession of a firearm by an illegal alien to be a felony.
This charge might be superfluous in this case in that the guns (one of which was stolen) were linked to drug trafficking; but the point is that immigration-related issues are important to consider whenever a criminal prosecution is being pursued.
In order to make certain that these two convicted drug traffickers are ultimately deported (removed) from the United States, the ICE special agents need to lodge detainers with the U.S. Marshals Service to make certain that they are not released onto the streets after they serve their prison sentences- this is especially important because it was noted that a part of their sentences calls for a 5 year period of “supervised release.”
It is also disturbing that there is no mention as to how either of these defendants are believed to have entered the United States so that they could commit the crimes for which they were convicted. Clearly the immigration-related issues were not just glossed over, they were nearly utterly ignored!
This administration has racked up an abysmal track record where the enforcement of our nation's immigration laws are concerned and while the failures to report on immigration-related issues in this case could simply be a matter of careless report writing, I am inclined to not believe that this is the case.
This represents an abrogation of the responsibilities vested in ICE to effectively enforce our nation's immigration laws.
It is important to remember that the purpose of our nation's immigration laws is to protect our nation from the presence of aliens who pose a threat to the safety and well-being of our nation and our citizens.
The process by which aliens are deported from the United States is designed and intended to remove aliens who evade the inspections process and/or commit violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act in a number of ways including committing various categories of crimes for which they are subsequently convicted. Certainly drug trafficking crimes are high on the list of such crimes that render an alien deportable.
Clearly these two convicted drug traffickers pose a very serious threat to our nation and especially to the folks in the community where they live- yet the issue of their immigration status or the fact that at least one of these criminal aliens is now subject to removal (deportation) from the United States, was utterly ignored in the verbiage touting the sentencing of these criminals for their drug-related crimes.
The only way for this case to truly have a happy ending is to know that when their jail sentences are served, if they are subject to deportation, they will be deported.