Chandra Levy: The Immigration Angle

By Jon Feere and Jon Feere on March 4, 2009

The D.C. Police Department announced today that illegal alien Ingmar Guandique will be charged for the May 2001 murder of 24-year-old congressional intern Chandra Levy. Since the media has focused largely on the relationship between Levy and then-Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.), the possible immigration connection went largely unnoticed. Even now news agencies from CBS to Fox News refuse to acknowledge that Guandique is in the country illegally.


Guandique is reportedly an illegal alien member of MS-13 who worked as a day laborer. He has an existing criminal record and is currently serving two, concurrent 10-year sentences for attacking two other women at knifepoint in D.C.’s Rock Creek Park – where Levy’s body was found – around the time of Levy’s disappearance.

Guandique’s background brings many issues to the forefront and serves as an important reminder that lax enforcement of immigration laws has real-life consequences.

Gangs. As an illegal alien, Guandique fits the profile of an MS-13 gang member. The Center for Immigration Studies found in our recent report, “Taking Back the Streets,” that up to 90 percent of the membership of some MS-13 cliques are illegal alien. Our lax enforcement of immigration laws has allowed this violent gang to spread throughout the United States, and is quite possibly partially to blame for Levy’s death. Although many illegal alien gang members do not yet have criminal records, there is no justification to delay enforcement of our laws until they kill someone. An illegal alien is deportable simply by nature of their illegal status. Had we removed Guandique long ago, Levy might still be alive.

Amnesty. Would Guandique’s membership in MS-13 alone bar him from receiving amnesty under the most recent proposal? Under some versions of the bill, and according to the Bush Administration’s understanding of the bill, it would not. If the amnesty had become law before Guandique’s conviction on the prior attacks, he would have been eligible for U.S. citizenship. In fact, Congress drafted a clause in the recent amnesty specifically for the benefit of illegal alien gang members. The only requirement was that gang members “renounce” their gang membership by signing a piece of paper – a meaningless gesture. Had Guandique received amnesty, it would not have prevented the attacks; it simply would have conferred countless benefits to a dangerous individual and cemented him in our society – even if he murdered someone the following day. It also would make law enforcement’s effort against the growth of gangs more difficult as the immigration law tools would be eliminated. Countless violent illegal aliens would become Americans.

Day Laborers. In addition to being a gang member, Guandique is being described as a day laborer. The overwhelming majority of day laborers are illegal aliens and consequently their employment is also illegal. As we explained in the gang report, many gang members hold jobs illegally during the day just like Guandique. As a result, a commitment to workplace enforcement is one way of limiting the spread of immigrant gangs. Unfortunately, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia have not made E-Verify mandatory. Consequently, illegal alien gang members like Guandique are able to make a living and likely find the area somewhat of a sanctuary. Not only have these jurisdictions failed to enact proper employment laws, they also affirmatively assist illegal aliens in acquiring under-the-table work by providing taxpayer dollars to a variety of day laborer hiring centers. One must wonder whether Guandique was aided by CASA de Maryland, for example, an organization that openly caters to illegal aliens. If CASA and other day labor organizations didn’t exist, Guandique may not have remained in the area long enough to commit any crimes.

Turning the other way on immigration law enforcement has serious consequences. There is no excuse for what happened in our nation’s capital during the Summer of 2001.