A California county’s refusal to detain an illegal alien, accused of violence, has ended in tragedy. Mario Chavez was charged with several serious crimes related to a domestic fight in August of this year. He made bail, ignored a restraining order and stabbed his wife to death. What makes this crime even more horrific is that it should have never happened. Chavez was in this country illegally and should have been detained, but Santa Clara County, where the crime occurred, doesn’t honor federal immigration requests to hold undocumented lawbreakers.
During the violent domestic argument, Chavez threatened his wife and 6-year old son with a knife. He was charged with criminal threats, child endangerment and brandishing a weapon. Chavez’s wife was also granted a protective order as a result of the incident. Despite the seriousness of the charges, a judge set the bail at $8000, which Chavez was able to post.
The restraining order provided no protection. Two weeks after the incident, Chavez went to his house and viciously stabbed his wife to death. The couple’s two young children were in the next room watching cartoons as their father killed their mother. It was a senseless homicide that could have been stopped if Chavez’s immigration status was made available to the feds.
The way U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents identify criminal illegal aliens is through a program called “Secure Communities.” With the program, local law enforcement is encouraged to submit fingerprints of those arrested to be run through the Department Of Homeland Security’s database. If identified, Agents will send a request for the prisoner to be held for up to 48 hours so deportation proceedings can be initiated. Santa Clara County disregards these requests.
In this case, the Secure Communities program wouldn’t have worked because Chavez had no prints on record; however, he was unable to establish legal residency. ICE bolsters the program by reviewing jail intake records and interviewing inmates. Agents could have easily determined he was in the country illegally. Unfortunately, Santa Clara County bans federal agents from contact with inmates without a warrant.
This tragedy could have been averted if there was any cooperation between the county and the feds. If agents were allowed access to Chavez, an interview would have revealed his illegal status. That, along with his arresting offenses, would have allowed him to be taken into federal custody and processed for deportation. He would not have been free to kill his wife.
County Supervisor Dave Cortese tried to pass blame from the uncooperative county policy and onto the legal system itself. He noted that Chavez was charged with serious crimes but that the district attorney did not request a higher bail.
“If (the DA) wants to be tougher on felons, he should do that. But don’t deflect attention to undocumented people,” said Cortese.
Cortese was unmoved by the killing and skeptical of the public-safety benefit of complying with the Safe Communities program. He said cases like Chavez’s represent only a small fraction of violent offenders in jail. Most inmates are U.S. citizens that wouldn’t be caught in the wide net cast by ICE, he added.
What a disgusting and callous attitude from an elected official. Here’s at least one public-safety benefit from detaining illegal aliens: a mother would still be alive and her children wouldn’t have been rendered, for all intents and purposes, orphans. How is protecting the rights of people who are in this country illegally more important than lives of the public at large?
Illegal aliens shouldn’t have rights beyond basic human rights anyways. They are not citizens. They are not legal residents. They should not be free to rob, rape and murder. I realize that Chavez’s wife was more than likely also undocumented, but it doesn’t mean he should have been given the means to slaughter her.
There are thousands of crimes committed by people who shouldn’t be in this country every year. Many of these crimes are violent and deadly and often perpetrated by people who have prior arrests. The policies of Santa Clara County, and other “safe haven” locales, put the public at risk. Human life is worth a little compliance and cooperation.