Illegal alien who raped 13-year-old girl was deported 10 times
AT readers don't need further proof that our border security is pathetic. But the case of Mexican illegal alien Tomas Martinez-Maldonado is particularly galling because of the total breakdown of the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems that led Martinez-Maldonado to rape a 13-year-old girl on a Greyhound bus in Kansas.
Martinez-Maldonado was deported 10 times and voluntarily left the country another 9 times. He was prosecuted for illegal entry several times, serving several months in jail. But somehow, his repeated offenses never made it to the district attorney, who should have had him up on felony immigration charges. In fact, two of his illegal entry cases were dismissed.
A status hearing in the rape case is scheduled for Jan. 10. Defense attorney Lisa Hamer declined to comment on the charge, but said, "criminal law and immigration definitely intersect and nowadays it should be the responsibility of every criminal defense attorney to know the possible ramifications in the immigration courts."
Nationwide, 52 percent of all federal prosecutions in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 were for entry or re-entry without legal permission and similar immigration violations, according to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
It's not unusual to see immigrants with multiple entries without legal permission, said David Trevino, a Topeka immigration attorney who has provided legal advice to Martinez-Maldonado's family. Most of Martinez-Maldonado's family lives in Mexico, but he also has family in the United States, and the family is "devastated," Trevino said.
"(President-elect Donald Trump) can build a wall 100 feet high and 50 feet deep, but it is not going to keep family members separated. So if someone is deported and they have family members here ... they will find a way back — whether it is through the air, under a wall, through the coast of the United States," Trevino said.
He declined to comment on Martinez-Maldonado's criminal history and pending charge.
Records obtained by AP show Martinez-Maldonado had eight voluntary removals before his first deportation in 2010, which was followed by another voluntary removal that same year. He was deported five more times between 2011 and 2013.
In 2013, Martinez-Maldonado was charged with entering without legal permission, a misdemeanor, and subsequently deported in early 2014 after serving his sentence. He was deported again a few months later, as well as twice in 2015 — including the last one in October 2015 after he had served his second sentence, the records show.
ICE said in an emailed statement that when it encounters a person who's been deported multiple times or has a significant criminal history and was removed, it routinely presents those cases to the U.S. attorney's office for possible criminal charges.
Cosme Lopez, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona, declined comment on why prosecutors twice dismissed felony re-entry after deportation charges against Martinez-Maldonado in 2013 and 2015 in exchange for guilty pleas on misdemeanor entry charges.
What can realistically be done? Building a wall is only part of the solution. Reforming the criminal justice system so that illegal aliens will be dealt with swiftly and fairly must be part of any immigration enforcement package passed by Congress so that people like Martinez-Maldonado won't slip through the cracks.
It's too late to help a 13-year-old girl, brutally assaulted by someone who should never have been here in the first place. But with Republicans in control of Congress and a president willing to do what's necessary to keep illegal aliens out of the country, hopefully, travesties like rape and murder of innocents by illegals will become far less common.