A seasoned INS agent’s prediction that lax federal immigration-detention policies eventually would lead to the deaths of U.S. citizens has come true after his warnings to government officials went unheeded, reports the Idaho Statesman.
Boise-based agent J. Kent Nygaard laid out his concerns in a pair of memos sent to Immigration and Naturalization Service officials in Washington within the past year, the paper said. Since then, seven people in Canyon and Elmore counties have been killed in accidents or murders allegedly involving four immigrants. INS has since been folded into the Department of Homeland Security.
Nygaard provided details about his warnings and the resultant deaths of U.S. citizens in a May 29 letter to U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. The Statesman reported the four immigrants allegedly involved had been arrested previously on a range of charges, including driving without privileges and drug possession.
Illegal immigrants are arrested by Border Patrol agents.
A spokesman for Craig told the Statesman the senator supported the detention of criminal immigrants. The paper also reported Craig is discussing the issue and considering new legislation that would deal with such problems.
“The real issue here is getting more resources into their hands at many levels,” Mike Tracy, Craig’s spokesman, told the Statesman. “We’re moving as quickly as we can.”
Other immigration-reform experts were critical of the government’s policies.
“This kind of thing happens frequently across the United States: Americans paying the price for our government’s continuing failure to enforce the law,” Craig Nelson, spokesman for Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement, or FILE, told WorldNetDaily.
“In a world in which nearly 5 billion people live in countries poorer than Mexico, the United States simply must get serious about enforcing our immigration laws, and the only way to do that is to humanely, but firmly, help illegal aliens return to their homes,” he said.
The Statesman said immigration officials were looking into Nygaard’s claims. But federal immigration officials have stated in the past that scant resources make it necessary to detain only immigrants who commit serious crimes like rape and murder.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services told WorldNetDaily the agency “would like to be able” to pick up all apprehended aliens. He also said the agency often fails to pick up “small groups” from local police because it is short-handed.
“We’ve got less than 2,000 special agents to carry out our mission,” the official, who asked not to be identified, said. “It’s a matter of resources, and we don’t have them.”
Nevertheless, federal law allows for the deportation of illegal aliens and other immigrants who are in the country legally but have committed serious crimes. Some states and communities, however, have adopted a sort of “catch-and-release” policy, whereby they either provide sanctuary for all immigrants or refuse to observe federal immigration laws.
The Statesman, which obtained a copy of Nygaard’s memos, reported the veteran agent said that the deaths of Maria Evangelina Angie Leon on May 19, Kathlene Walker on April 15, Shawn and Sage Marti on Feb. 27, and Rebecca Ramirez and her two sons in July 2002 “illustrate the impact of releasing immigrants who are arrested for or convicted of committing crimes.”
The paper said Nygaard admitted that deporting the immigrants may not have stopped them from returning to Idaho. But, he insisted, “a much stronger argument is that the arrest and deportation of these four men may have altered history enough so that these seven people would not be dead today.”
“It is an undeniable fact that these types of deaths will continue if INS does not change its detention policies,” Nygaard wrote, according to the paper.
Nygaard said in his 27 years as an immigration special agent around Boise, the number of staff at the local office has remained constant – at seven.
A report in FrontpageMagazine.com detailed other crimes committed recently by immigrants.
In one case, David Montiel Cruz, an illegal immigrant who kidnapped a 9-year-old girl in San Jose, Calif., in June, had been arrested by police for auto theft and was found using multiple aliases. The magazine said his illegal status was known to local officers, but San Jose police forbade cops from questioning the immigration status of suspects.
In another case in Houston, the magazine said, Walter Alexander Sorto, ticketed several times for traffic violations, stands accused of the abduction, rape and murder of three women. “A 13-year-old girl, Laura Ayala, was abducted just days after Sorto had been charged with failure to appear in court; no arrest had been made. Recent blood evidence has linked him to her disappearance in addition to the slayings he and his associates had already been accused of,” the report said.
“Lax detention policies for criminal aliens has resulted in hundreds of thousands of aliens being released onto our streets, their whereabouts unknown to immigration authorities until they commit a violent crime against an innocent American and it hits the headlines,” David Ray, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told WorldNetDaily.
“All aliens who are subject to deportation should be detained and held for their removal hearings. What’s paramount in this equation is the safety of the American public, which has been put on the back burner for far too long,” he said.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., head of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, told Frontpage Magazine that the aforementioned criminal incidents were just examples of “what is happening all over the country.” But, he told the magazine, “there is no political will” to enforce federal law and repeal sanctuary policies.
“When immigrants commit serious crimes in the U.S., they have violated their commitment to the American people and have thus forfeited the privilege of remaining in America,” Ray said. “They have essentially worn out their welcome and should be sent home, post haste.”