Immigration Lessons from the Chandra Levy Murder Case

By Jon Feere and Jon Feere on November 23, 2010

Salvadoran illegal immigrant Ingmar Guandique has been convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for killing intern Chandra Levy while she jogged in Washington, D.C.'s Rock Creek Park in May 2001. Guandique faces a minimum of 30 years to life in prison.

Guandique is reportedly an illegal alien gang 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 Rock Creek Park 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. Unfortunately, the District of Columbia and some adjacent jurisdictions continue to oppose any enforcement measures that could spare the life of any number of interns who come to D.C. every year.

Gangs. As an illegal alien, Guandique fits the profile of an MS-13 gang member. The Center for Immigration Studies has reported that up to 90 percent of the members of some MS-13 cliques are in the country illegally. The nation's lax enforcement of immigration laws has allowed this violent gang to spread throughout the United States and it is well-known that MS-13 has a strong presence in northern Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. But these same jurisdictions have become de facto illegal alien sanctuaries, meaning that individuals like Guandique are welcomed here. Sadly, a horrific and well-publicized murder is not enough for the local leadership to make any changes to these public safety-threatening policies. Only a few weeks ago the D.C. council voted to prevent the use of Secure Communities at local jails, meaning that local jails will not contact federal immigration authorities (ICE) when a potentially-dangerous illegal alien like Guandique is locked up. In other words, the D.C. council has created a policy that may allow for more attacks on jogging interns.

Amnesty. Would Guandique's membership in MS-13 alone bar him from receiving amnesty under the 2007 amnesty proposal? Under some versions of the 2007 bill, and according to the Bush administration's understanding of the bill, 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 2007 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. It also would make law enforcement's effort against the growth of gangs more difficult as the immigration law tools they use to deter and prevent crime would be eliminated.

The currently-debated illegal alien amnesty – the DREAM Act, a sizable amnesty for adult illegal aliens up to age 35 -- would also benefit alien gang members, according to Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In fact, even if a criminal alien were to apply for the DREAM Act, Section 9 of the DREAM Act actually prevents use of the information in the application for purposes of carrying out immigration law enforcement, whether or not the application is successful. In other words, even if information contained in the application provided evidence of criminal gang activity, for example, the government is barred from using that information to initiate removal proceedings. The only exception is if a law enforcement entity is aware that a problematic alien is applying for the DREAM Act and makes a written request with the U.S. Attorney General or the Secretary of Homeland Security for that specific alien applicant's information as part of an investigation or prosecution. The federal entities tasked with vetting the applications would not automatically report any concerns to federal immigration authorities, despite having potentially valuable information before them. To that extent, the DREAM Act builds a wall between federal agencies and frustrates information-sharing, a problem that was considered a chief contributor to the 9/11 attacks.

Day Laborers. In addition to being a gang member, Guandique has been described as a day laborer. The overwhelming majority of day laborers are illegal aliens and consequently their employment is also illegal. In fact, many gang members hold jobs illegally during the day just like Guandique did. As a result, a commitment to workplace enforcement is one way of limiting the spread of immigrant gangs, and illegal immigration generally. Unfortunately, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia have not made E-Verify mandatory for all businesses – only Virginia has made it mandatory for state agencies. Consequently, illegal alien gang members like Guandique are able to make a living and likely find the area somewhat of an attractive 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 did not provide a magnet for illegal immigration, Guandique may not have remained in the area long enough to commit any crimes.

The public can be happy that one violent MS-13 member is no longer on the streets, but there are many other violent illegal aliens throughout the D.C. metropolitan area. It is well time for local authorities to get serious about public safety and stop appeasing open-border activist groups.