Fox News reports that an illegal alien, who was previously deported, has been arrested in Utah for raping a seven-year-old girl “thousands of times.” According to the St. George Daily Spectrum, Victor Francisco Michel-Lara had been previously arrested on unrelated criminal charges and deported to Mexico. Concerned citizens may be asking, “Why does this keep happening and what is the solution?”
American citizens, lawful immigrants, and even other illegal aliens keep becoming victims of alien criminals because too many presidential administrations have refused to take immigration enforcement seriously. Our borders are not secured by a physical barrier. The federal government has tolerated dangerous state and local sanctuary policies for far too long. And many our immigration laws reward immigration violators with conversion to lawful permanent residence in the United States. These are all problems that will take a while to solve.
But we’re ignoring an easy, short-term solution that would send a clear message to deported aliens not to re-enter the U.S. while simultaneously protecting Americans from criminal predation. 8 U.S.C. Section 1326 makes reentering the United States after deportation a federal crime. If an alien was deported for having been convicted of an aggravated felony, the sentence for reentry is imprisonment for a maximum of 20 years.
However, most criminal re-entrants are eligible for a sentencing reduction program referred to as “Fast Track.” Under this program deported aliens who plead guilty to criminal reentry within 30 days receive a significantly lighter sentence. The complexity of immigration laws, coupled with the time necessary to prepare reentry cases, and the relatively light sentences handed down often combine to discourage U.S. Attorneys from prosecuting all but the most egregious offenders. The net result is that 8 U.S.C. Section 1326 has been deprived of most of its deterrent effect.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions could reverse this disturbing situation with the stroke of a pen, by issuing a memo directing decline plea agreements in reentry cases and take them to trial. He could also instruct U.S. Attorneys to seek the maximum allowable sentence against reentrants. A realistic possibility of spending 20 years in a federal penitentiary might be just what is needed to dissuade deported criminals from attempting to reenter the U.S.
Regardless of what actions it takes to deal with the criminal reentrant problem, the U.S. government should put the interests of the American public first. How many seven-year-olds have to suffer at the hands of foreign sexual predators before we say enough is enough?