Illegal Immigrants To Get U.S. Residency –In Jail

Illegal Immigrants To Get U.S. Residency…In Jail
Illegal Immigrants With Gang-Connections Could Get 20 Years In Federal Prison

December 19, 2007

LOS ANGELES (CBS) Twenty-three gang-members awaiting their release from state prisons and various jails around southern California are facing new federal charges which could land each of them behind bars for up to another 20 years in federal prison.

The twenty-three defendants were charged as part of an effort by local and federal law enforcement to further punish convicted illegal alien gang members. The idea is to charge them with felony re-entering the United States after deportation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. If convicted, each gang member faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

Six of the defendants were scheduled to make their appearances Wednesday in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

One defendant, Ascencion Hernandez-Perez, 38, of Mexico, has been deported seven times and has prior convictions for making criminal threats and domestic violence. Hernandez-Perez allegedly has ties to the Valerio Street gang, according to ICE.

Julio Cesar Mata-Sosa, 34, of Mexico, has also been deported seven times and has been convicted of robbery, possessing and selling illegal drugs, and auto theft.

The new effort is called “Operation Winter Warning” and is part of a combined effort by ICE, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office to keep those with gang ties off the streets.

“The strong support we've received from Steve Cooley and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has allowed us to increase the number of prosecutions of those criminal aliens who repeatedly return to the United States to commit gang crime,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien in a statement.

ICE officers screen foreign-born inmates at area jails to find those with deportations and ties to violent street gangs, ICE said. Thus far, most of the cases involve inmates at more than 50 local and county jails in the Los Angeles County.

One of the driving forces behind this new move was the April 2002 fatal shooting of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy David March. March was killed by Armando Garci, a Mexican national illegally living in the United Sates, and who had been deported three times prior to March's death.

In a statement, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said that Oscar Gabriel Gallegos, another illegal immigrant, attempted to kill to Long Beach police officers in December 2006 – Abe Yap and Roy Wade, Gallegos had also been deported three times prior to then.

ICE said it is training personnel from sheriff's departments in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties to investigate and lodge immigration holds against deportable foreign nationals in southland county jails.