Wrist-slap sentence for Mexican national who voted for ten years using a fake birth certificate

A Mexican national who bought a fake birth certificate for $50,000 and has been voting in American elections for a decade has been sentenced to time served – just over one year in the county jail.  Tom Kacich of the News-Gazette in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois reports:

A Mexican national who pleaded guilty last year to federal charges of voting illegally in U.S. elections and making a false statement in an application for a U.S. passport was sentenced Friday to time served, meaning that he could be released from custody any day.

But his attorneys, Tony and Evan Bruno, said it's unclear what will happen to 34-year-old Miguel Valencia-Sandoval, since he faces deportation back to Mexico by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Valencia-Sandoval has been in custody for more than a year since he was arrested after attempting to re-enter the United States at Laredo, Texas[] in January 2017.  In his court appearance Friday, he was dressed in a gray striped jumpsuit from the Macon County Jail.

Before the arrest, he had lived in Urbana with his wife, Maria Ramirez, since 2005, raising three children, all of whom were born here.  He had held several jobs, even at one time owning and operating a Mexican restaurant while using the identity of a Texas man named Ramiro G. Vasquez.

Valencia-Sandoval admitted, according to a federal affidavit, that he was not the true owner of the Texas birth certificate for Ramiro Vasquez and that he had bought it for $50,000 in 2005.

A year in the county jail is not the sort of penalty that would deter others from illegally voting, given the low probability of being caught.

Make no mistake: nothing less than our democracy is at stake when illegal voting is penalized so lightly and when enforcement measures are not vigorously employed to uncover illegal voters.  Valencia-Sandoval's voting was discovered only after he was apprehended for an illegal border crossing, not because anyone was checking voter rolls for fraud.  And Democrats at the state level have worked so effectively to undermine the Election Integrity Commission that wanted to search for people voting in multiple states that it has been disbanded.

The judge in the case blames sentencing guidelines:

U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce imposed the sentence Friday afternoon, saying that it fit within the guidelines of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

"It is not my job to second-guess Congress or the sentencing commission, and I'm not inclined to create new law," he said.

I always believe federal judges when they make public statements, so Judge Bruce points toward an obvious agenda item for the GOP (I take it as given that Democrats will continue to oppose any crackdown on illegal voters because they think they benefit from them).  The House and Senate Judiciary Committees should hold hearings on the sentencing guidelines for vote fraud with an eye toward matching the penalties with the gravity of the offense.

Valencia-Sandoval reportedly has engaged in no other criminal activity beyond illegally entering the country and subverting our democracy:

Valencia-Sandoval had no criminal record [sic; only because authorities had not noticed his illegal entry –ed.], had been employed, paid taxes[,] and even voted (eight times in Champaign County, according to records at the county clerk's office, between 2008 and 2016, including the 2012 Republican primary and the 2014 and 2016 Democratic primaries). ...

More than 40 letters in support of Valencia-Sandoval were submitted by friends, neighbors, relatives[,] and past employers, most of them citing his devotion to his family and his ambition.

"Ramiro has been a loyal and reliable subcontractor for our company for two years.  His hard work and dedication are testament to his strong work ethic," wrote Rick Scott, co-owner of Kevin Daniels Painting & Drywall, using Valencia-Sandoval's assumed name.

If he such a good guy, why did he purchase a fraudulent birth certificate and vote?  Did he perhaps assume that it was no big deal?  If so, that's an argument for tougher sentencing guidelines.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol

A Mexican national who bought a fake birth certificate for $50,000 and has been voting in American elections for a decade has been sentenced to time served – just over one year in the county jail.  Tom Kacich of the News-Gazette in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois reports:

A Mexican national who pleaded guilty last year to federal charges of voting illegally in U.S. elections and making a false statement in an application for a U.S. passport was sentenced Friday to time served, meaning that he could be released from custody any day.

But his attorneys, Tony and Evan Bruno, said it's unclear what will happen to 34-year-old Miguel Valencia-Sandoval, since he faces deportation back to Mexico by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Valencia-Sandoval has been in custody for more than a year since he was arrested after attempting to re-enter the United States at Laredo, Texas[] in January 2017.  In his court appearance Friday, he was dressed in a gray striped jumpsuit from the Macon County Jail.

Before the arrest, he had lived in Urbana with his wife, Maria Ramirez, since 2005, raising three children, all of whom were born here.  He had held several jobs, even at one time owning and operating a Mexican restaurant while using the identity of a Texas man named Ramiro G. Vasquez.

Valencia-Sandoval admitted, according to a federal affidavit, that he was not the true owner of the Texas birth certificate for Ramiro Vasquez and that he had bought it for $50,000 in 2005.

A year in the county jail is not the sort of penalty that would deter others from illegally voting, given the low probability of being caught.

Make no mistake: nothing less than our democracy is at stake when illegal voting is penalized so lightly and when enforcement measures are not vigorously employed to uncover illegal voters.  Valencia-Sandoval's voting was discovered only after he was apprehended for an illegal border crossing, not because anyone was checking voter rolls for fraud.  And Democrats at the state level have worked so effectively to undermine the Election Integrity Commission that wanted to search for people voting in multiple states that it has been disbanded.

The judge in the case blames sentencing guidelines:

U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce imposed the sentence Friday afternoon, saying that it fit within the guidelines of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

"It is not my job to second-guess Congress or the sentencing commission, and I'm not inclined to create new law," he said.

I always believe federal judges when they make public statements, so Judge Bruce points toward an obvious agenda item for the GOP (I take it as given that Democrats will continue to oppose any crackdown on illegal voters because they think they benefit from them).  The House and Senate Judiciary Committees should hold hearings on the sentencing guidelines for vote fraud with an eye toward matching the penalties with the gravity of the offense.

Valencia-Sandoval reportedly has engaged in no other criminal activity beyond illegally entering the country and subverting our democracy:

Valencia-Sandoval had no criminal record [sic; only because authorities had not noticed his illegal entry –ed.], had been employed, paid taxes[,] and even voted (eight times in Champaign County, according to records at the county clerk's office, between 2008 and 2016, including the 2012 Republican primary and the 2014 and 2016 Democratic primaries). ...

More than 40 letters in support of Valencia-Sandoval were submitted by friends, neighbors, relatives[,] and past employers, most of them citing his devotion to his family and his ambition.

"Ramiro has been a loyal and reliable subcontractor for our company for two years.  His hard work and dedication are testament to his strong work ethic," wrote Rick Scott, co-owner of Kevin Daniels Painting & Drywall, using Valencia-Sandoval's assumed name.

If he such a good guy, why did he purchase a fraudulent birth certificate and vote?  Did he perhaps assume that it was no big deal?  If so, that's an argument for tougher sentencing guidelines.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol