'Low-priority' Illegals? Obama Amnesty and Enforcement Priorities Endanger Public Safety

By Jon Feere and Jon Feere on August 29, 2011

The Obama administration's new administrative amnesty apparently directs ICE to wait until an illegal alien commits a serious crime or two before considering deportation. Similarly, according to the administration's latest 287(g) enforcement scheme, Americans must fall victim to "murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and/or kidnapping" before the alien perpetrator becomes a high priority for deportation. Generally, illegal immigrants arrested by state and local law enforcement for crimes like ID theft, public intoxication, and DUI are released back out onto the streets rather than deported. But if public safety is to be the guide, an illegal alien should be removed from the country at the first possible opportunity, before a serious crime is committed. Unfortunately, a number of recent killings, all within the span of a few days, likely illustrate the horrific fallout of the Obama administration's enforcement priorities.

August 18, 2011 — Santa Rosa, California

In Santa Rosa, California, illegal immigrant Marcos Lopez Garcia ̶a̶l̶l̶e̶g̶e̶d̶l̶y̶ was sentenced to 4 years for killing 4-year-old Christopher "Buddy" Rowe while he was walking in a crosswalk with his mother and siblings.

According to reports, Garcia, who was driving without a license, fled the scene. A good Samaritan listening in on a police scanner spotted Garcia's car and apparently saw Garcia peeling a Giants sticker from the back window in an apparent effort to hide any distinguishing features. The man then saw Garcia hop into a different vehicle driven by a female (reportedly a Volvo owned by Garcia's girlfriend) and reported the license plate to the police.

According to court records Garcia had been convicted in 2010 of driving without a license. Reportedly he has a total of two previous arrests for driving without a license, one of which occurred only five days before the hit and run. Despite his illegal immigrant status, Garcia was never handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Even if he had been, driving without a license is not a high priority offense that would lead to deportation under the Obama administration's calculations.

The open-border agenda on the local level contributed to the child's death as well. When Garcia was cited for driving without a license in 2010, his car was impounded for 30 days. This year, after being cited for driving without a license — less than a week prior to the hit and run — Garcia did not have his car impounded. Why the change? Open-borders advocates have been busy pressuring police departments to not impound vehicles because the policy is "disproportionately effecting undocumented immigrants." A review of the 2,064 vehicles impounded by Santa Rosa police between January 2003 and June 2005 found that 88 percent of the automobile impounds were driven by Latinos.

The effort to let unlicensed illegal aliens continue driving after being stopped has made its way to the statehouse. California Assemblyman Michael Allen, a Democrat who represents Santa Rosa, has introduced a bill designed to limit the effectiveness of DUI checkpoints by requiring their exact locations to be publicly announced 48 hours in advance, among other things (an earlier version would have prevented vehicle impounds entirely if the driver could persuade a licensed driver to show up and hop in the driver's seat). Allen introduced the bill after reportedly receiving "thousands of letters explaining how sobriety checkpoints directly affected the life" of illegal aliens. The California Labor Federation, the ACLU, and a host of other open-border organizations are supporting the bill because it would reduce impounds of vehicles driven by illegal aliens. A number of cities in the San Francisco Bay Area have already sided with the illegal alien pressure groups and abandoned car impound policies including, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley. California law enforcement, directed by politicos, are not impounding cars to the extent that they could and are consequently endangering lives. "This is fantastic that it is happening," said Stella Agudelo of Santa Rosa's Resurrection Church.

California legislators' pro-illegal immigration stance on employment also arguably contributed to the child's death. Illegal immigrants generally go to jurisdictions that are more welcoming. California does not mandate E-Verify despite the fact that the state is home to around a quarter of the nation's illegal immigrant population. The suspect in the Santa Rosa hit-and-run told a judge that he was employed by Joey's Original Pizza, which according to NumbersUSA does not use E-Verify. Had the California legislature followed the lead of other states and made it difficult for illegal immigrants to obtain employment in the Golden State, perhaps Mr. Garcia would never have been in California in the first place. Of course, California offers many other inducements to illegal immigration, all of which would have to be shut down if the state gets serious about the rule of law.

August 20, 2011 — Milford, Massachusetts

Two days after four-year-old Christopher Rowe was struck, an illegal alien in Milford, Massachusetts by the name of Nicholas Guaman killed motorcyclist Matthew Denice, 23, in a drunk driving car wreck. Guaman hit Denice and then proceeded to drag him a quarter of a mile to his death.

Guaman is charged with vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury and death, possession of an open container, failing to stop for police, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to yield at a stop sign, wanton or reckless conduct creating risk to a child (Guaman's son was in the vehicle with him), and resisting arrest. After he was stopped, a witness reported that Guaman's six-year-old son got out of the truck and started punching and kicking police officers, demanding that they leave his father alone.

According to law enforcement, Guaman has been arrested three times since 2007 for driving without a license in Milford, Uxbridge, and Attleboro. Guaman also served one year of probation from May 2008 to May 2009 for charges that included assault and battery on a police officer and assault on a firefighter after a 2008 incident in which he interfered with the treatment of a family member who had allegedly attempted to break into someone else's home.

None of these incidents was enough to pique ICE's interest in getting Guaman removed from the country. As is the apparent rule, an illegal alien must kill or seriously injure someone before deportation becomes a possibility.

The local newspaper snapped of a photo of Guaman wearing a "O'Lyn Roofing" t-shirt during his arraignment hearing. While it's unclear whether the company employed Guaman, according to the NumbersUSA database it does not use E-Verify, and the state of Massachusetts does not require use of the program, making the state very attractive to illegal immigrants. Again, had the state discouraged lawlessness perhaps Guaman would never have moved to Massachusetts and Denice might still be alive.

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick recently came out against the commonsense fingerprint-sharing program Secure Communities at the request of open-border activists. His press secretary explained:

…The governor's policy is that serious criminals who are here illegally should be deported. Massachusetts has and will continue to send fingerprints to the federal government, and the Massachusetts Department of Correction will continue to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to facilitate removal of undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of felonies."

Putting it differently, an illegal alien must be given an opportunity to kill someone, or commit some other felony, before Massachusetts will consider handing the individual (or the individual's fingerprints) over to immigration enforcement. Public safety takes a back seat to open-border politics. The welfare of illegal aliens is a higher priority than the welfare of citizens, it seems.

In a press release, Worcester County sheriff Lew Evangelidis explained that "Massachusetts should join the Secure Communities Act to promote public safety and protect our citizens, rather than maintain a safe haven for illegal alien criminals." He explained that the governor's decision to opt out of Secure Communities "will hinder rather than support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe."

UPDATE: Guaman was sentenced 12 to 14 years for killing Matthew Denice.

August 21, 2011 — Brenham, Texas

Only a day after the killing of Matthew Denice, yet another tragic event occurred. While driving drunk in Brenham, Texas, illegal immigrant Roberto Castillo allegedly killed four people in a car crash. The victims were 22-year-old Rachel Ann Dominguez, 20-year-old Imelda Yajaira-Sukey Duran, 19-year-old Guillermo Gonzales Delgado, and 19-year-old Ronald Barrios Mendez. Castillo allegedly ran from the scene but was quickly picked by law enforcement. Local authorities called it one of the worst wrecks they've ever seen.

A few weeks prior to the crash, Castillo was arrested for driving under the influence. But because of ICE priorities and the Obama administration's decision to give illegal immigrants like Castillo a pass, he was not turned over to federal authorities. According to the report:

Chief Deputy Mike Herzog said it's doubtful that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were contacted about Castillo's arrest and illegal alien status.

"At that time, ICE was only taking Class B and above (offenders)," Herzog said. "This was a Class C misdemeanor."

Castillo is now facing legal consequences and potential deportation, but again, it required death and bloodshed before ICE took his illegal status seriously. Instead of deporting Castillo when he first crossed paths with law enforcement, he was released back out onto the streets. A drunk-driving and/or unlicensed illegal alien remains a low priority under the Obama administration's direction, but a significant threat to public safety.

UPDATE: Castillo was sentenced to 4 years and a $1,000 fine for fleeing the scene of the accident but nothing more after prosecutors and a grand jury concluded from a convenience store video that the deceased driver contributed to the accident and that the drivers of both vehicles were intoxicated to a certain extent.


Unfortunately, the open-border crowd is very influential in the White House and in state houses. How many of the 300,000 aliens currently in deportation proceedings — whom Obama seeks to release — will go on to cause harm? And if there are negative repercussions, will anyone working in the Obama administration feel any responsibility for the bloodshed and tears that result?

The examples listed above are but a few of many. Of course, a person is not guilty until proven so in a court of law, and some of the illegal immigrants listed above may be found not guilty. It is also true that most illegal immigrants are not violent. But the fact remains that all illegal immigrants can and should be deported at the first opportunity; remember that even non-violent illegal aliens are still likely involved in ID fraud and create real victims. Giving a pass to crimes like ID fraud, public intoxication, DUIs, and waiting until a person is killed or seriously injured before deportation becomes a priority in no way benefits public safety.