“We watch them all,” an agent says. “You don’t know who you have or how dangerous they are until you process them."
  • “We watch them all,” an agent says. “You don’t know who you have or how dangerous they are until you process them."
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Of the more than 20,000 people apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego in the first eight months of this fiscal year, 3321 of them had a total of 6329 criminal convictions for crimes against people or driving under the influence. That's according to San Diego sector spokesman Paul Carr, who sorted through the agency's current numbers at the request of this reporter.

Border Patrol stats

Border Patrol stats

Those numbers do not include minor crimes such as petty theft, vandalism, disorderly conduct, graffiti, and things that are generally charged as misdemeanors; auto theft, drug-smuggling, and drug-use convictions are not included either. Nor are outstanding arrest warrants or federal charges for repeatedly crossing the border illegally. And the routine checks of the National Criminal Intelligence Center do not turn up information about criminal charges and convictions in other countries.

Border Angels founder and migrant activist Enrique Morones points out that the majority of the people apprehended in this sector do not have criminal convictions.

"This tells us that most migrants are not criminals. They are deporting housekeepers, gardeners, and children," he says. "It's very sad and shameful."

Former U.S. Attorney Peter Nuñez points out that by virtue of crossing the border illegally, a crime was committed — one not counted in these statistics.

A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in December 2012 noted that the San Diego sector had the second-highest rate and numbers of repeated illegal border-crossers, at around 52 percent. El Centro had the highest repeater rate, but Tucson had the highest number of repeaters. Those numbers don't show up in the NCIC conviction statistics because prosecutions are generally deferred until the person is caught a second time.

Among the 3321 people with convictions for crimes against people and DUIs captured by Border Patrol agents between October 1, 2013, and May 26, 2014, there were 10 homicide convictions, 5 voluntary manslaughter convictions, 78 aggravated assault, and 75 battery convictions.

Sexual violence convictions include 46 rape convictions, 10 sexual assault convictions, and 15 convictions for sex offenses involving minors. There were also 12 convictions for indecent exposure, 12 convictions for unspecified sexual offenses, and 2 convictions for failure to register as sex offenders.

 There were 1187 convictions for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and 58 hit-and-run convictions. Domestic violence convictions numbered 236, and an additional 35 convictions were for cruelty to a wife or child.

Border Patrol agents making the apprehensions say that sometimes it’s easy to spot the convicts. While tattoos are common, one agent says, “You can tell if they’re cheap homemade from the village they came from or a cheap Walkman-motor tattoo from prison or an expensive tattoo from a weekend in Vegas.”

Agents say that extreme deference from a detainee is often a tip-off that they’ve been in the prison system, as is a good grasp of English when it comes to the language of arrest.

“There are guys who are very polite to you and they say, ‘Yes, sir; no, sir,’ and even though they’re crawling in the dirt they keep themselves clean — that’s from being institutionalized,” another agent says.

Patrol agents working alone often catch groups of people running the border together, and even if one person stands out as a convicted criminal, the agents are watchful of the whole group.

“We watch them all,” an agent says. “You don’t know who you have or how dangerous they are until you process them, so our training is you watch them all.”

Former federal prosecutor Nuñez says that the numbers don’t surprise him.

“The real question about the 3321 is what happened to them after they were caught,” Nuñez says. “The Border Patrol arrests and turns them over to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], and what should happen is ICE investigates their backgrounds and one of three things follow: they are sent for prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s office; they are set up for deportation; or they are granted voluntary departure (the alien waives his right to a deportation hearing and is deported). But what has been happening is that the Obama administration has ordered many of them released from custody into the community.”

Asked what happened to the criminals, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice says that the criminal aliens’ fates were decided on a case-by-case basis.

“Serious crimes are always a basis for removal. Crimes where the sentence was a year or more may be a basis for deportation. We look at their ties to the community, at their immigration history, and their conviction record. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.”

But each case still has to go to an immigration judge. And that’s a frustration for ICE.

“We see DUI as a threat to public safety,” Kice says. “Removal for DUIs has been extensively litigated and the person may be allowed to remain in the U.S.”

The immigration courts don’t always side with ICE, she says.

“We can put a person into removal proceedings and the courts can still decide to let someone stay — if they will be tortured if we return them to their own country, for example.” 

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silverlover June 28, 2014 @ 10:09 p.m.

Closing the border is not the answer; voting and electing local and government officials that are willing to enforce the laws and not open the door to all the illegals that are invading this country is. Elected officials are supposed to work for what is best for the citizens that elect them not spend the money we give them in benefiting other countries. Next time do not vote for a president to be that was born in Africa. Americans do not want the illegals to receive any kind of benefit, they are the ones breaking the system by jumping to the front of the line with total disregard for others that had put an application and are waiting for a response without being here breaking the laws. The American government has all kinds of laws to protect illegals who do not respect any law. Now illegals who should not have any right for the facts of being illegals are demanding to be given papers because they are here. The solution to the thousands of children and some with the mothers that are showing here to be taken in is to send them back ASAP with the parents that sent $6,000.00 or $7,000.00 to bring them here. Or better yet pass the word that New York will give free legal advice and free id's to all the illegals they have so the ones crossing should get there as fast as possible. New York has the getto areas where most blacks live in poverty and now illegals will have a better life than blacks. Nicely done citizens of New York that elected such officials. Too bad no elected official local or in the government ever reads the comments of the people that pay the paycheck they receive for working to benefit illegals.


danfogel June 29, 2014 @ 12:46 p.m.

silverlover, your comment contains one statement that clearly illustrates the problem we have with partisan politics today: "Elected officials are supposed to work for what is best for the citizens that elect them" WRONG.PERIOD.END OF STORY!!! Elected officials are supposed to work for what is best for EVERY citizen, irrespective of whom those said citizens cast their votes for, including those who don't cast a ballot, whatever the reason may be.


silverlover June 29, 2014 @ 6:22 p.m.

NO, they need to work for us the ones that pay their paycheck, the legal citizens; NOT the ILLEGALS. Where illegals come from they can not cast a vote before they produce all legal documents to prove they are who they say they are hence proving citizenship; they come here and there is all kinds of laws and judges that side with illegals so they are free to roam this country as they wish. WE need to get together and make sure illegals do not take OUR country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


danfogel June 29, 2014 @ 6:56 p.m.

silverlover "NO, they need to work for us the ones that pay their paycheck, the legal citizens". that's not what you said in your original comment, and nowhere did I refer to illegals. I said citizens, not illegals because they re not citizens. Again, you said "Elected officials are supposed to work for what is best for the citizens that elect them". I want an elected official who will work for what is best for ALL citizens, not just the ones that voted for them. That means also working for what is best for those who voted against, who didn't bother to vote, since at least 40% of registered voters, and many times more, don't bother to cast a ballot. That also means those CITIZENS who are not registered voters; those that are too young to vote, those that have not registered to vote for whatever reason, felons who have paid their debt, but have not had their right to vote restored, all of them. EVERY SINGLE (LEGAL) CITIZEN has the right to expect that their elected officials will do what is right for them and the country irregardless of who cast votes for whom.


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