Even Safe Cities Need the SAFE Act

By Jessica M. Vaughan on July 19, 2013

The case of Cesar Benitez, an illegal alien serial rapist with numerous prior offenses, including repeated immigration violations, illustrates the pressing need for the SAFE Act, now under consideration in the U.S. House as a welcome alternative to the Schumer-Rubio bill.

Benitez was arrested in April 2012 for hiding in a women's bathroom at a Target store in Allen, Texas, and peeping at a 13-year old girl in the next stall. They caught him in nearby Plano, where police also sought him for similar offenses, charged him with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and set bond at $1,500.

Cesar Benitez

The police department of Allen, which is near Dallas and recently was named the safest city in Texas, has a policy of taking digital fingerprints of all those booked into jail. This means that Benitez's prints would have been shared with ICE through the Secure Communities program.

This automated records check should have told ICE that Benitez had been arrested and deported back in 2002 (if ICE has completed a years-old project to digitize older immigration records), but certainly would have revealed him as a possible illegal alien. Benitez had re-entered the country illegally in 2003 and also had a criminal record under the alias "Pino Porcayo". He reportedly worked in construction.

Repeat and criminal immigration violators are supposedly a priority for ICE even under lenient Obama administration policies, but ICE took a pass on him last year. Under current policies, ICE agents are told to wait for an alien's conviction before charging for immigration violations or detaining, and misdemeanor convictions generally are ignored. Supervisors in this particular ICE field office are already notorious for leniency with criminal aliens; it was officers in the Dallas field office who sued DHS after being forced to release a criminal alien who had assaulted two agents, because the alien claimed to be eligible for "Obama's Dream Amnesty".

Benitez was therefore free to remain in the area and continue to terrorize women. Based on DNA evidence, he now has been arrested for aggravated sexual assault for three rapes that occurred on February 22, March 15, and March 19, 2013, in Lake Highland, a suburb of Dallas. In each assault, Benitez allegedly broke into homes and threatened his victims with a knife. Residents were on edge for weeks awaiting the arrest of a suspect.

Benitez finally was apprehended on April 3 after trying to flee from a Dallas police officer who had pulled him over for a traffic violation. He is being held on $4.5 million bail and ICE has issued a detainer.

One goal of the SAFE Act is to prevent disgusting creeps like Benitez from remaining illegally in the United States to commit further crimes. It is a layered approach that enables, and in some situations requires, both ICE and local police to take action to swiftly put criminal aliens on the path to removal. Some of the provisions that would have helped in this case:

  • ICE would be required to take custody of any removable alien upon request of local law enforcement.

  • ICE would have to detain criminal aliens, rather than release them back into the community on bond or other release programs.

  • Local police would be empowered to investigate the immigration status of those arrested and would be required to share information with ICE.

  • Information on an alien's prior removal would be more readily accessible to local police.

  • ICE would have the ability to use expedited removal against all criminal aliens.

  • Aliens convicted of rape and other sexual offenses clearly would be subject to the harshest immigration penalties.

  • ICE would have enough resources and detention space to routinely carry out these consequences.

  • Political leaders would have limited ability to stymie enforcement through amnesty gimmicks such as "prosecutorial discretion", and agents would have the ability to enforce laws evenhandedly.

  • The city of Dallas would be discouraged from continuing its sanctuary policies that inhibit officers from learning that Benitez was removable.

In contrast, the Schumer-Rubio bill would consider Benitez eligible for amnesty, possibly as a DREAMer, and therefore on the fast track to citizenship. He has not yet been convicted for any crime, and his prior deportation would be ignored, so he would remain immune from immigration enforcement until his conviction. Even that conviction could be excused for the purposes of any future legalization application if his future taxpayer-funded immigration defense lawyer could persuade the future Secretary of Homeland Security that there are compelling humanitarian reasons for him to stay, perhaps as a needed construction worker.

For more reasons why we are better off with SAFE than sorry with Schumer-Rubio, see this blog.