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Defendants Charged With Illegal Re-Entry Face Light Prison Sentences

(credit:  Parker Co. Sheriff’s Office)

(credit: Parker Co. Sheriff’s Office)

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
Jack moved to Dallas after three years at WESH-TV, the NBC affil...
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PARKER COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) - The parents of a nine year old girl near Springtown may be forever haunted after she was allegedly fondled early last Saturday morning by Israel Andrade, 35.

“He jumped the fence and went in through that window,” said the young girl’s mother. Before Andrade’s arrest, he was charged and convicted for repeatedly illegally re-entering the country. He was officially deported four times. “That’s ridiculous,” according to the victim’s mother.

Court records show when Andrade was convicted of illegal re-entry the first time in 2004, a judge sentenced him to 179 days in federal prison. Four years later, he received a seven month sentence for the same charge, and in 2011, a judge sentenced him to two years in prison — the maximum penalty for the charge of illegal re-entry.

“Obviously, in this case, the system failed because there was a guy allegedly molesting children or trying to molest children who shouldn’t have been in the country,” said former U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Texas, Richard Roper. “It’s almost unfair to the courts to deal with what is really a border security issue.”

John Ting is an immigration attorney and advocate in Dallas. “Do we want taxpayer money to hold an immigrant who does not have status in our prison system and our taxpayer money still paying for their incarceration? So there’s a discussion that has to be had.”

Since October of 2013, records from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University (TRAC) show the number of people in the U.S. prosecuted by the federal government for illegal re-entry has surged to nearly 20,000. But statistics from TRAC also show many of those people are not being convicted of that same charge.

Records show between October, 2012 and March, 2014, 49 percent of the defendants charged with illegal re-entry, a felony, were actually  allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of illegal entry, which carries a penalty of only up to six months in prison. But that’s not happening in Texas.

But in Arizona nearly nine out of ten defendants have plead to the lower charge. According to TRAC, the most cases involving immigration crimes are along the Southwest border in Arizona, the Southern District of California, New Mexico, the Southern District of Texas and the Western District of Texas.

In the Western District of Texas, 5,991 or 98 percent of defendants were prosecuted for and convicted of illegal re-entry between October, 2012 and March, 2014.

Only 111 or 2 percent who were prosecuted for illegal re-entry plead guilty to the lesser charge of illegal entry. In the Southern District of Texas, 5,768 or 99 percent of defendents were prosecuted for and convicted of illegal re-entry during that same time. Only 38 or 1 percent pled guilty to illegal entry.

In New Mexico, 4,338 or 98 percent were charged and convicted of illegal re-entry, while 106 or 2 percent were convicted of illegal entry.
In the Southern District of California, a lower percentage, 81 percent or 2,576 defendants were both prosecuted and convicted of illegal re-entry, while 19 percent or 623 were allowed to plead to illegal entry.

But the numbers are vastly different in Arizona, where 23,266 or 89 percent of those charged with illegal re-entry plead guilty to the lower charge. Only 3,010 or 11 percent were convicted of felony illegal re-entry.

CBS 11 News spoke to Richard Roper, the former U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Texas, and asked how much of a risk it is to people in the country when those here illegally are allowed to plead to a lesser charge and receive lighter sentences.  His answer: “If they have been here illegally and they are re-entering probably it is an issue with resources, it’s an issue with priorities. And if you have people like this individual in Parker County, you put this country at risk.”

Andrade is now being held in the Parker County Jail without bond on an immigration hold. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas said it’s unable to comment on his case because of the on-going investigation. If convicted on the molestation charges, Andrade faces years in state prison. But if he’s charged and convicted again of illegal re-entry, he could also face up to 20 years in federal prison and then face deportation.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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