View From Lodi, CA: Mexico And Washington Creating Criminal Alien Scandal

On April 29, 2002 Armando Garcia, a Mexican national illegally in California, shot and killed Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff David March during a routine traffic stop.

Garcia, thrice deported and previously charged on two counts of attempted murder, fled to Mexico.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley has asked the federal government to seek a diplomatic solution with Mexico to extradite Garcia back to California. But the Mexican government is unlikely to consider any proposal that does not include reducing the charges against Garcia from first-degree murder to manslaughter or assault with a deadly weapon.

Refusals from Mexico to extradite violent criminals are par for the course.

Since October 2, 2001, when the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that Mexico's goal for violent offenders is criminal rehabilitation, the U.S. has been unable to persuade Mexico to extradite murders and rapists back to America for prosecution.

According to the Mexican Supreme Court, a sentence of either death or life imprisonment if imposed by U.S. courts would violate the Mexican constitution and is "cruel and unusual punishment."

Mexico has become a safe haven for many nationals who commit violent crime in the U.S.  For the price of a bus ticket the lowest of the low can breathe free in Mexico. Here are a few examples:

  • Daniel Perez who shot his estranged wife and killed her father. Perez had prior convictions for attempted first-degree murder, spousal battery, kidnapping and stalking.

  • Alvaro Luna Jara is charged with the murder of a 12-year-old boy and the attempted murder of three others. Although Jara is not a Mexican national, Mexico refused to extradite him because his parents are.

  • Juan Manuel Casillas shot (in the back) and killed his 17-year-old ex-girl friend and her 15-year-old female cousin on their way to high-school

  • Father Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, a Roman Catholic priest, who is charged with 19 counts of child molestation.

Los Angeles County officials estimate that from L.A. alone more than 60 suspected killers have fled to Mexico for sanctuary.

U.S. prosecutors have four unsatisfactory options: 

  1. Refuse to seek extradition and thereby let murderers escape scot-free.

  1. Seek extradition but comply with Mexico's demands for reduced charges.

  1. Seek extradition, refuse assurances and have the matter convert to an Article IV prosecution under Mexican penal law.

  1. Seek prosecution under Article IV as above.

In reality, prosecutors are subject to the Mexican government's whim.

Amazingly, the U.S. federal government, despite written requests from all 50 states' attorney generals, has not lifted a finger to help.

Recently, Cooley visited Attorney General John Ashcroft to plead his case. Follow-up letters to Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and all other 98 U.S. Senators have been mostly ignored.

Deputy Los Angeles County District Attorney and Director Janice Maurizi has a Freedom of Information Act request at the Department of Justice for extradition statistics. [Click here for a transcript of a debate between Maurizi and Jorge Garcia Villalobos of the Los Angeles Mexican Consul's office. (Scroll down.)] The 10-day period allowed for a DOJ reply expired three weeks ago.

California Assemblyman Keith Richman introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 51 urging the Public Safety Committee to recognize the importance of extraditing criminals back to California. The measure failed when Democrats Carl Washington, Jackie Goldberg and Fred Keeley voted against.

Said Richman, "It is outrageous that we cannot get unanimous support for this measure."

Maurizi, who addressed the P.S.C., insisted "California stand up to demand action by our Federal government to prevent the infringement on our sovereign right to protect our citizens and prosecute and punish for crimes committed on our soil."

If the federal government isn't interested in justice on behalf of the victims of heinous crimes, what is it interested in?

For one thing, eighteen members of the House Judiciary Committee are concerned about protecting the "rights" of criminal aliens.

H.R. 1452, ludicrously named "The Family Reunification Act of 2002" would repeal mandatory detention of criminal aliens and create a loophole that would allow certain criminal aliens to avoid deportation. Those already deported could return to the U.S. to pursue reinstatement.

Among those who would benefit from H.R. 1452, which passed Committee, are those convicted of assault, arson, robbery, child pornography, alien smuggling and document fraud.

California Congressmen who voted yes on this outrageous legislation are Darrell Issa, Adam Schiff, Maxine Waters and Zoe Lofgren.

An I.N.S. review of thousands of criminal alien cases while potential terrorists roam throughout the country unchecked would be an absurd misuse of time and assets.

House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt has a more preposterous idea--an amnesty for 10 million illegal aliens. Because so many millions live in the U.S. illegally, any amnesty would absolutely include terrorists and criminals.

This, of course, is much less important to Gephardt than the prospect of Latino votes for Democratic candidates.

Here's the sad summary of this column. When Mexico wants something from the U.S. (driver's licenses and in-state tuition for illegal aliens, consular identification cards, amnesty) waves of delegations come north to lobby hard. The U.S. government snaps to attention.

But if the U.S. wants something from Mexico as basic as the extradition of a cop-killer, we get the cold shoulder.

As for all of that talk from President George W. Bush and the other transparent phonies in D.C. about Homeland Security, you can forget it.

Votes count more.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.