The Heroin Dealer as Immigration Activist

By Dan Cadman on June 20, 2016

The United States is experiencing a crisis in heroin addiction at near-epidemic levels. This has been going on for a few years now, with no sign of let-up. The addiction has affected towns large and small, and all strata of society, including the very young, leading lawmakers, physicians, educators, and civic leaders to sound the alarm.

Heroin has become so plentiful that many users who began with prolonged use of prescription drugs obtained, at least originally, legally, find it cheaper to switch to packets of junk sold on the street than to continue trying to find new ways and sources to get their hands on the prescription drugs. The same is true for those who began on prescription drugs obtained through diversion from legitimate outlets into the street market.

It's just easier to buy the heroin. So much easier that many American youth are hooked in their teens. It is also much, much stronger than in the past — leading even experienced users to risk overdosing, which has risen threefold since 2010.

Virtually all of the heroin in the United States is imported. It used to be obtained from the opium of poppies grown in exotic places such as Asia's Golden Triangle, but much of that product is now being sold in China, which is also suffering a rise in opiate-related abuse. Now a great deal of the heroin in use in the United States comes from out next-door neighbor, Mexico, and floats across our terribly porous southern border and ultimately into the arms of our children. Mexico's drug cartels have developed deep roots on both sides of the border to facilitate the smuggling. For instance, the notoriously violent Los Zetas is believed to have made close connections with the tightly knit and equally violent street gang MS-13, whose street sellers in major metropolitan areas peddle lesser amounts of heroin quickly and at volume. There is plenty of profit to go around.

The heroin epidemic is so profound that at least one of the reasons the shared ambition of many Democrats and Republicans to rewrite the criminal justice and sentencing laws has stalled is because of disagreement over how to deal with criminals who sell opiates in all of their many forms.

Enter Francisco Aguirre. Aguirre, a Salvadoran national, convicted heroin trafficker, and prior deportee from the United States, was recently featured in a Portland newspaper as an immigration "activist" who, according to a Fox News article, took shelter from federal authorities in a local church. When taken into custody, he was charged with the felony offense of reentry after deportation. Out of the blue, though, the U.S. Attorney's Office moved to dismiss the charge "in the interest of justice", declining to further explain to the media.

The article indicates that Aguirre has two U.S. children, as if that were explanation enough for why he should be permitted to remain, but it is not. We know nothing about his commitment to, or care of, these children. We do know that he had a 19-year-old child who was recently murdered in El Salvador. That is a tragedy for any parent. But the article is silent about the circumstances of the murder. Was the son involved in gangs such as MS-13? Was he involved in drugs and crime? Was the son following in his father's footsteps with tragic results?

This case puts the lie to the president's televised November 2014 speech presaging his widespread (and likely unconstitutional) executive actions on immigration — the one in which he promised to ensure that federal immigration agents would focus on "felons, not families". It also shows that sometimes the two things are not so clearly separable as he would have us believe. In the end, what is clear is that society's needs and expectations should prevail over the individual.

Do we really need to tolerate the presence of an illegal alien heroin trafficker in our midst, however long ago his conviction may have occurred? What kind of message does that send to grieving parents all over the United States, whose children have died of overdoses (see for example here and here) brought on by the plentiful availability of the drug, thanks to the work of "activists" like Aguirre? If we are to expend our sympathies, it should be on them, not on Aguirre.

As for the "activist", he is quoted as saying, "This initial victory is proof that when we come together, we can win. ... The only way to ensure justice for migrants is if we come together as a community and defend our basic human rights."

I am unable to discern from anything said in the article exactly what "justice" is served by permitting convicted heroin traffickers to go unpunished for violating the immigration laws by illegally reentering after having been removed; or by permitting them to remain in the United States, which is clearly the bent of the article. It looks to me like he is mostly an activist for his own selfish needs. No wonder the U.S. attorney had no additional words of explanation for having the charge dismissed; his actions are inexplicable.