NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A Mexican national, who was encountered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Secure Communities program, was sentenced Thursday to time served for illegally reentering the United States after deportation. He pleaded guilty to the charge Aug. 20. This case was investigated by ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Jose Angel Lopez-Garcia, 27, first entered the United States in April 1999 and voluntarily returned to Mexico. He reentered the country several times between 1999 and 2010. After illegally reentering in 2010, he was ordered deported by an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and removed Sept. 24, 2010. On an unknown date after Sept. 24, 2010, Lopez-Garcia illegally reentered the United States once again. On June 10, 2012, Lopez-Garcia was arrested by the Stamford (Conn.) Police Department for various driving-related offenses.
Secure Communities is a simple and common sense way to carry out ICE's priorities. It uses an already-existing federal information-sharing partnership between ICE and the FBI that helps to identify illegal aliens without imposing new or additional requirements on state and local law enforcement. For decades, local jurisdictions have shared the fingerprints of individuals who are arrested or booked into custody with the FBI to see if they have a criminal record. Under Secure Communities, which is activated statewide in Connecticut, the FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to check against its immigration databases.
If these checks reveal that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States or otherwise removable, ICE takes enforcement action – prioritizing the removal of individuals who present the most significant threats to public safety as determined by the severity of their crime, their criminal history, and other factors – as well as those who have repeatedly violated immigration laws. Lopez-Garcia is a priority for ICE since he is an egregious immigration law violator that has been previously removed from the United States on 10 separate occasions. He is also now a convicted criminal alien, another priority for ICE.
Because Lopez-Garcia had been previously encountered and fingerprinted by immigration officials, there is a digitized record. Once his fingerprints were run after his most recent arrest in Connecticut, Secure Communities registered a "match," and ICE was notified that Lopez-Garcia was back in the country illegally. He had been detained by federal authorities since that arrest, and will now be deported back to Mexico by ICE, making this his 11th removal.
"As this case shows, there will be consequences for those who show no respect for our laws or our borders," said Dorothy Herrera-Niles, field office director for ERO Boston. Herrera-Niles oversees ERO throughout New England. "By using tools like Secure Communities, ICE is locating and deporting more criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators than ever before, and our communities are safer as a result."
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala, District of Connecticut.