California Activists Demand Amnesty for Felons

By Jessica M. Vaughan on December 6, 2013

A group of amnesty activists in California really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel in their quest to draw public sympathy for illegal aliens who are being deported.

On Monday, November 26, three women, two of whom are illegal aliens and one who is a U.S. citizen, chained themselves by the neck to a fence surrounding the Adelanto Detention Facility in San Bernardino, Calif. Their aim was to provoke arrest and draw attention to their demands for the release of three men being detained at the center. They were part of a larger group of activists demanding a moratorium on all deportations. The three women were arrested, spent the night in a county jail, and now face charges for misdemeanor failure to disperse, trespassing, and a felony charge of vandalism.

Said Dianey Murillo, who arrived illegally 12 years ago from Mexico and is now a sociology major at Riverside Community College and beneficiary of the Obama administration's 2012 controversial directive to issue work permits to illegal aliens under age 31:

I won't feel like I accomplished anything until I hear those men have been released and are going back home. This has been very emotional for me. I've been thinking about what the parents and families go through.

Who are "those men"?

  • Artyom Karapetyan is a citizen of Armenia with a green card. The Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC) website says he is a father of two non-U.S. citizen high school students and has applied for humanitarian parole in order to receive treatment for fibromyalgia and alcoholism. San Bernardino County says his criminal history includes two felony convictions in 2011, one for burglary and one for drug violations. He was also convicted of assaulting a San Bernardino correctional officer, also a felony, this year. According to ICE, he was ordered deported in 2012 by an immigration judge and has an appeal pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Carlos Hidalgo is an illegal alien who has lived here for 10 years and has a young daughter according to IYC. He "committed a non-violent crime", but has applied for a U-visa, which is intended to give crime victims legal status and eventually a green card. IYC doesn't mention that the crimes were a 2012 arrest for drug possession and a 2013 conviction for felony use and sale of a bank card without permission. According to ICE, he was transferred to their custody from the Los Angeles County Jail in 2012. ICE then released him under an "Intensive Supervision Appearance Program", (an alternative to detention program of the sort the Obama administration has asked Congress for permission to expand). He failed to comply with the rules and was ordered deported in absentia in December 2012. He was again arrested and jailed in Los Angeles County earlier this year on the felony charge, after which he was again transferred to ICE custody and has filed a motion to re-open his deportation case. In addition to the drug and fraud record, Hidalgo has two prior convictions for driving under the influence as well as two prior convictions for probation violations.

  • Jose Santos Maltez is a citizen of Nicaragua who has been in the United States for over 10 years and is now married to a U.S. Citizen. He has four U.S. citizen children. According to the IYC, in 2009 he had an "altercation with his mother-in-law at a family gathering". He was arrested and the police "placed a 'sexual abuse' charge on his record". He served five months in county jail and participated in a rehabilitation program. According to ICE, agents on the Los Angeles Fugitive Operations Team picked him up after a tip from the California sex offender registry and subsequent confirmation of his felony conviction in 2010. He was ordered deported in 2012, was denied bond, appealed his deportation but was denied, and remains in ICE custody pending deportation.

The reality of immigration enforcement today is that it is overwhelmingly (and overly) targeted on those illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes. ICE is so selective nowadays that they are actually releasing more criminal aliens than they are deporting. In fiscal year 2013, ICE agents were referred to and screened 700,000 potentially removable aliens, the vast majority of whom were located in jails and prisons. They attempted to remove fewer than 200,000 of them. ICE is funded to remove about 400,000 people per year, but the agency instead chooses to use much of its resources to process individuals arrested by the Border Patrol. The total number of deportations, and deportations of criminals, have dropped significantly in the last several years, a fact that DHS has tried to conceal.

The latest excuse given by ICE for not deporting illegal aliens came in the form of a directive ordering agents to try to look the other way from illegal aliens who are parents or caretakers of minor children. I reviewed a database of 502 ICE deportation cases from 2008-2010 that I obtained for another research project and found that about 65 percent of this sample claimed to have minor children. This is comparable to the U.S. criminal justice system at large. According to a fact sheet put out by the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated, two-thirds of all incarcerated women and 55 percent of all incarcerated men have children younger than 18.

To some, the mere fact that deportable aliens have families is an argument for amnesty. To me, it is an argument not necessarily for leniency but definitely for swifter immigration removal proceedings. This would enable deportable aliens with families to promptly move on with their lives instead of living in prolonged immigration limbo that is either self-inflicted or encouraged by activist legal aid groups with ideological and policy agendas that sometimes conflict with aliens' best interests.

In the meantime, American families who have been the victims of crimes committed by illegal aliens and others who game our generous immigration system object to the way politicians and the mainstream media shower attention and approval on illegal immigrants. Don Rosenberg, of California, expressed this in a recent letter to talk show host Rachel Maddow:

On Wednesday night's show ... you lamented that [a young man] will not get to spend Thanksgiving with his father who is being deported. ... This man and his dad can spend this Thanksgiving and many others together if the son would return to his native land, or if he is a U.S. citizen he can go visit and return at any time. At the very least he can call him on the phone.

I, unfortunately, do not have that option. My son Drew, a second-year law student, was killed by an illegal alien three years ago, nine days before Thanksgiving. I will never have another Thanksgiving with my son. I can only visit him at the cemetery and of course I will never get to speak to him again. You spoke about a policy that "quite literally splits families apart." ... My family and so many like mine haven't been split apart. Ours have been destroyed because our laws were not followed.

Why is it that we never hear from your show or any other ... about all of the people killed by illegal aliens? Why don't we know why that man's father was being deported? ... Why do you assume that all of these people are being deported for no valid reason?