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  • INS fails to send ex-cons home

    Miguel Angel Gordoba is a pedophile. He is also an illegal
    immigrant.

    So last year, after he finished serving a four-year sentence for molesting
    a 2-year-old girl in rural Alma, Ga., everyone assumed that he would be
    deported to his native Mexico, as required by federal law.

    Everyone was wrong.

    Gordoba left prison and disappeared into the community because the
    Immigration and Naturalization Service never deported him.

    A computer analysis by Cox Newspapers shows that in Georgia alone, hundreds
    of felons, including child molesters, drug dealers and robbers, were never
    picked up by the INS after they finished their sentences. Nationally,
    federal investigators say thousands of immigrant felons have not been
    deported, although no one knows precisely how many.

    Gordoba's latest shot at the land of opportunity came as a complete
    surprise to the assistant district attorney who prosecuted him.

    "They're supposed to deport them. Why aren't they doing it?" Alex Markowich
    asked when told the admitted pedophile hadn't been booted out of the country.

    "Everybody, I recall, seemed to understand that he was going to do prison
    [and] since he was an illegal alien, when he got done with his sentence,
    they were going to send him back to Mexico," Markowich said. "That's
    horrible. That's horrible."

    When states incarcerate noncitizens, it's the responsibility of federal
    immigration authorities, using a variety of methods, to follow them through
    the prison system. However, Atlanta INS officials said they were not
    familiar with the Gordoba case.

    "We don't have any record on Gordoba," said spokeswoman Sue Brown, adding
    that she did not know why he had not come to the office's attention.

    Such hit-or-miss tracking of foreign-born criminals prompted Congress to
    pass a series of laws starting in 1988 to toughen requirements for removing
    them. But federal studies repeatedly have found that the INS, which has
    never been given enough funding, has failed to enforce those laws.

    In September, the Justice Department's inspector general said the INS was
    drastically understaffed for this work and concluded that, especially in
    local jails, foreign-born inmates were passing through "virtually
    undetected" and then being released into the community, where more than a
    third in the study were soon arrested for new crimes.

    8 molesters freed

    The computer study by Cox Newspapers identified criminal illegal immigrants
    who have slipped through the holes in the INS deportation network. Among
    the findings:

    * Since 1990, at least eight immigrants convicted of molesting children
    were released from prison in Georgia but were not immediately removed from
    the country, records of the Georgia Corrections Department indicate. When
    reporters tried in the past few weeks to find these men, they discovered at
    least three had disappeared and are being sought --- two for failing to
    register as sex offenders and one for not reporting to his probation
    officer. Three others were not known to the INS, and two were deported long
    after their prison release --- five years later in one case.

    * In all, Georgia prison system records show state officials released at
    least 250 potentially deportable felons without certifying that they had
    been put into INS removal proceedings. That's 20 percent of all immigrants
    released from the state's prisons since 1990.

    * Among them were 30 noncitizens convicted on cocaine charges, many assault
    cases, and one voluntary manslaughter case.

    INS officials around the country concede that they have no fail-safe system
    for identifying immigrants in prisons and jails. Frances Holmes, district
    director in Buffalo, N.Y., said INS agents try to keep track but that
    sometimes prison and jail officials "don't tell us they're there."

    In Fresno, Calif., INS agent in charge Don Riding said his office lacks the
    staff to check out each foreign-born inmate. "Keep in mind that 30 percent
    of the California prison system are deportable aliens," he said, adding
    that the numbers are "staggering," especially when the county and city
    jails are included.

    "If you wanted to get everybody who goes through the system, it would
    require quite a few more people than we have," Riding said.

    In theory, the deportation system is clear-cut. When convicts are taken to
    a prison or jail, they are interviewed and illegal immigrants are referred
    to the INS. The agency checks their backgrounds and places a "hold" to
    prevent the release of noncitizens who are drug criminals or who are felons
    sentenced to more than a year in prison. While they are serving time, the
    INS initiates deportation hearings and seeks a final order of removal. On
    the day the immigrant completes the sentence, the INS takes custody and
    ushers him or her out of the country.

    At least, that's how it's supposed to work.

    In reality, the INS has only spotty coverage of the inmate population
    nationwide and works with varying success with countless state and local
    law enforcement entities. Moreover, being an INS deportation officer is
    such an unpopular job that 30 percent depart each year, leaving vacancies
    in the already understaffed and underfunded operation.

    In Georgia, deportations are so hit or miss that even child molesters have
    been mistakenly released.

    In addition to Gordoba, the Cox Newspapers investigation identified Lazaro
    de la Cruz, a Mexican who at age 27 sexually molested a 3-year-old girl in
    the Gainesville area. A county judge sentenced him to 10 years, half in
    prison and half on probation, and wrote a note saying that the probation
    would be suspended upon de la Cruz's deportation.

    But after five years in prison, de la Cruz had dropped off the INS radar
    screen. He left the Coffee County Jail on Oct. 2, 1999, and disappeared.

    The INS placed a hold on another Mexican, Hilario Martinez. But in late
    1996, Georgia corrections records show, he was released from Dooly State
    Prison after serving only half of his three-year sentence for child
    molestation in Cobb County.

    Atlanta INS spokeswoman Brown said her investigators could not explain why
    the two --- both are wanted by law enforcement authorities --- had not been
    turned over for deportation. Brown said that "apparently" the INS requests
    got lost.

    "We have a very good working relationship with the state, but sometimes
    things happen," she said. She said the INS has only one full-time
    investigative agent to monitor all of the state's prisoners.

    At the Georgia Department of Corrections, spokeswoman Sheree Lipscomb said
    the prisons have a policy of notifying the INS about noncitizen inmates so
    the agency can place a "hold" on them. She said prison records contained no
    indication of holds on Gordoba, Martinez or de la Cruz.

    The problem, said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, is
    that "for 30 years, no one has wanted the INS to work."

    "It's easy to lampoon the INS as the Rodney Dangerfield of the U.S.
    government," said Krikorian, who is executive director of the private
    Washington-based group. But, he added, "the source of the problem is
    successive Congresses and White Houses" that have favored loose border
    security.

    Krikorian, whose group favors more restrictions on immigration, said that
    if the government were serious about enforcing laws, noncitizen felons
    would be deported.

    'A no-brainer'

    The release of the child molesters was called "outrageous" by John Holton,
    vice president of Stop Child Abuse America, a private Chicago-based
    advocacy group.

    "We don't deal well with our homegrown problem, so we certainly can't
    afford more," he said. "If a person who is here illegally commits a crime
    and is prosecuted and is sent to prison and serves their time --- upon
    release, they should be deported. That should be a no-brainer."

    Even an official of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, whose
    members defend immigrants, agreed that criminals such as child molesters
    should be deported. "I think most of the general public would prefer to see
    child molesters not being let out on the street," said Kathleen Walker, an
    El Paso, Texas, lawyer who is the group's treasurer.

    But not everyone agrees.

    "My guess is that the monitoring that they will receive if they are sent
    back to Mexico, for example, is substantially lower from what they would
    get here," said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children
    Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. He added that "by
    deporting them to Mexico we may be endangering kids someplace else."

    As for Miguel Angelo Gordoba, he left Rivers State Prison in August 2001
    and registered, as required by Georgia law for sex offenders. He listed a
    new home address of 6142 U.S. 319 North in Omega, not far from where he
    committed his crime. When a Colquitt County sheriff's deputy went to the
    address early in 2002 to check him out, he found it was a vacant lot. Law
    enforcement officials issued a warrant for Gordoba's arrest last February.

    The outcome wasn't what his lawyer, Jimmy Boatright, expected when he
    warned his client in 1997 that he would almost certainly be sent back to
    Mexico.

    "That seemed to be the consensus, that he would serve his time and then be
    deported," Boatright said in a recent interview. "But given what's happened
    lately with the INS, it doesn't surprise me at all that he would slip
    through the crack."

  • #2
    Miguel Angel Gordoba is a pedophile. He is also an illegal
    immigrant.

    So last year, after he finished serving a four-year sentence for molesting
    a 2-year-old girl in rural Alma, Ga., everyone assumed that he would be
    deported to his native Mexico, as required by federal law.

    Everyone was wrong.

    Gordoba left prison and disappeared into the community because the
    Immigration and Naturalization Service never deported him.

    A computer analysis by Cox Newspapers shows that in Georgia alone, hundreds
    of felons, including child molesters, drug dealers and robbers, were never
    picked up by the INS after they finished their sentences. Nationally,
    federal investigators say thousands of immigrant felons have not been
    deported, although no one knows precisely how many.

    Gordoba's latest shot at the land of opportunity came as a complete
    surprise to the assistant district attorney who prosecuted him.

    "They're supposed to deport them. Why aren't they doing it?" Alex Markowich
    asked when told the admitted pedophile hadn't been booted out of the country.

    "Everybody, I recall, seemed to understand that he was going to do prison
    [and] since he was an illegal alien, when he got done with his sentence,
    they were going to send him back to Mexico," Markowich said. "That's
    horrible. That's horrible."

    When states incarcerate noncitizens, it's the responsibility of federal
    immigration authorities, using a variety of methods, to follow them through
    the prison system. However, Atlanta INS officials said they were not
    familiar with the Gordoba case.

    "We don't have any record on Gordoba," said spokeswoman Sue Brown, adding
    that she did not know why he had not come to the office's attention.

    Such hit-or-miss tracking of foreign-born criminals prompted Congress to
    pass a series of laws starting in 1988 to toughen requirements for removing
    them. But federal studies repeatedly have found that the INS, which has
    never been given enough funding, has failed to enforce those laws.

    In September, the Justice Department's inspector general said the INS was
    drastically understaffed for this work and concluded that, especially in
    local jails, foreign-born inmates were passing through "virtually
    undetected" and then being released into the community, where more than a
    third in the study were soon arrested for new crimes.

    8 molesters freed

    The computer study by Cox Newspapers identified criminal illegal immigrants
    who have slipped through the holes in the INS deportation network. Among
    the findings:

    * Since 1990, at least eight immigrants convicted of molesting children
    were released from prison in Georgia but were not immediately removed from
    the country, records of the Georgia Corrections Department indicate. When
    reporters tried in the past few weeks to find these men, they discovered at
    least three had disappeared and are being sought --- two for failing to
    register as sex offenders and one for not reporting to his probation
    officer. Three others were not known to the INS, and two were deported long
    after their prison release --- five years later in one case.

    * In all, Georgia prison system records show state officials released at
    least 250 potentially deportable felons without certifying that they had
    been put into INS removal proceedings. That's 20 percent of all immigrants
    released from the state's prisons since 1990.

    * Among them were 30 noncitizens convicted on cocaine charges, many assault
    cases, and one voluntary manslaughter case.

    INS officials around the country concede that they have no fail-safe system
    for identifying immigrants in prisons and jails. Frances Holmes, district
    director in Buffalo, N.Y., said INS agents try to keep track but that
    sometimes prison and jail officials "don't tell us they're there."

    In Fresno, Calif., INS agent in charge Don Riding said his office lacks the
    staff to check out each foreign-born inmate. "Keep in mind that 30 percent
    of the California prison system are deportable aliens," he said, adding
    that the numbers are "staggering," especially when the county and city
    jails are included.

    "If you wanted to get everybody who goes through the system, it would
    require quite a few more people than we have," Riding said.

    In theory, the deportation system is clear-cut. When convicts are taken to
    a prison or jail, they are interviewed and illegal immigrants are referred
    to the INS. The agency checks their backgrounds and places a "hold" to
    prevent the release of noncitizens who are drug criminals or who are felons
    sentenced to more than a year in prison. While they are serving time, the
    INS initiates deportation hearings and seeks a final order of removal. On
    the day the immigrant completes the sentence, the INS takes custody and
    ushers him or her out of the country.

    At least, that's how it's supposed to work.

    In reality, the INS has only spotty coverage of the inmate population
    nationwide and works with varying success with countless state and local
    law enforcement entities. Moreover, being an INS deportation officer is
    such an unpopular job that 30 percent depart each year, leaving vacancies
    in the already understaffed and underfunded operation.

    In Georgia, deportations are so hit or miss that even child molesters have
    been mistakenly released.

    In addition to Gordoba, the Cox Newspapers investigation identified Lazaro
    de la Cruz, a Mexican who at age 27 sexually molested a 3-year-old girl in
    the Gainesville area. A county judge sentenced him to 10 years, half in
    prison and half on probation, and wrote a note saying that the probation
    would be suspended upon de la Cruz's deportation.

    But after five years in prison, de la Cruz had dropped off the INS radar
    screen. He left the Coffee County Jail on Oct. 2, 1999, and disappeared.

    The INS placed a hold on another Mexican, Hilario Martinez. But in late
    1996, Georgia corrections records show, he was released from Dooly State
    Prison after serving only half of his three-year sentence for child
    molestation in Cobb County.

    Atlanta INS spokeswoman Brown said her investigators could not explain why
    the two --- both are wanted by law enforcement authorities --- had not been
    turned over for deportation. Brown said that "apparently" the INS requests
    got lost.

    "We have a very good working relationship with the state, but sometimes
    things happen," she said. She said the INS has only one full-time
    investigative agent to monitor all of the state's prisoners.

    At the Georgia Department of Corrections, spokeswoman Sheree Lipscomb said
    the prisons have a policy of notifying the INS about noncitizen inmates so
    the agency can place a "hold" on them. She said prison records contained no
    indication of holds on Gordoba, Martinez or de la Cruz.

    The problem, said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, is
    that "for 30 years, no one has wanted the INS to work."

    "It's easy to lampoon the INS as the Rodney Dangerfield of the U.S.
    government," said Krikorian, who is executive director of the private
    Washington-based group. But, he added, "the source of the problem is
    successive Congresses and White Houses" that have favored loose border
    security.

    Krikorian, whose group favors more restrictions on immigration, said that
    if the government were serious about enforcing laws, noncitizen felons
    would be deported.

    'A no-brainer'

    The release of the child molesters was called "outrageous" by John Holton,
    vice president of Stop Child Abuse America, a private Chicago-based
    advocacy group.

    "We don't deal well with our homegrown problem, so we certainly can't
    afford more," he said. "If a person who is here illegally commits a crime
    and is prosecuted and is sent to prison and serves their time --- upon
    release, they should be deported. That should be a no-brainer."

    Even an official of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, whose
    members defend immigrants, agreed that criminals such as child molesters
    should be deported. "I think most of the general public would prefer to see
    child molesters not being let out on the street," said Kathleen Walker, an
    El Paso, Texas, lawyer who is the group's treasurer.

    But not everyone agrees.

    "My guess is that the monitoring that they will receive if they are sent
    back to Mexico, for example, is substantially lower from what they would
    get here," said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children
    Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. He added that "by
    deporting them to Mexico we may be endangering kids someplace else."

    As for Miguel Angelo Gordoba, he left Rivers State Prison in August 2001
    and registered, as required by Georgia law for sex offenders. He listed a
    new home address of 6142 U.S. 319 North in Omega, not far from where he
    committed his crime. When a Colquitt County sheriff's deputy went to the
    address early in 2002 to check him out, he found it was a vacant lot. Law
    enforcement officials issued a warrant for Gordoba's arrest last February.

    The outcome wasn't what his lawyer, Jimmy Boatright, expected when he
    warned his client in 1997 that he would almost certainly be sent back to
    Mexico.

    "That seemed to be the consensus, that he would serve his time and then be
    deported," Boatright said in a recent interview. "But given what's happened
    lately with the INS, it doesn't surprise me at all that he would slip
    through the crack."

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