Unwritten law for violent immigrants | July 25, 2008 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |


Mountain View Voice

News - July 25, 2008

Unwritten law for violent immigrants

Feds notified of some criminals' immigration status, but city, county have no official policy

by Daniel DeBolt

The recent tragedy in San Francisco, when a father and his two sons were gunned down in cold blood, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant, was every city's worst nightmare. The question remains, however, whether it might have been avoided had they been in Santa Clara County.

The suspect in that case, 21-year-old Salvadoran immigrant Edwin Ramos, reportedly was protected by San Francisco's recently rescinded "sanctuary city" policy. Under the policy, San Francisco did not share information about undocumented criminals with immigration officials, who could have deported Ramos due to prior offenses.

Mountain View and Santa Clara County do not have a sanctuary policy, making it harder for someone like Ramos — who had juvenile court convictions for violent crimes, including a gang-related assault — to avoid the notice of immigration officials. Still, although it's less likely, violent criminals can skirt deportation here. Interviews with local police and county prosecutors indicate that there is no formal policy on when to report a suspect's immigration status, and police say they don't ask the question upon arrest.

As a result, federal immigration officials often end up screening local jail populations, but it's an overwhelming job, and not a top priority due to the war on terror, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

The county district attorney's office has an unwritten policy of reporting the immigration status of violent criminals, including juveniles, but "Unless they [the criminals] tell us there is no way to know," said Javier Alcala, supervising deputy district attorney for North County.

"Our office can report to ICE either when someone has been charged with a crime, or after conviction," said Amy Cornell, spokesperson for the district attorney's office. "It happens on a case-by-case basis. It's more common for arresting agencies to report immigration status."

In Mountain View, police "generally do not ask" for a suspect's immigration status, said retired police captain Bruce Barsi.

Police spokesperson Liz Wylie said the question isn't even on the booking forms that the county supplies to local police departments.

"We don't ask that question of people we arrest," Wylie said. "We ask where people are born but that doesn't imply immigration status. We treat everybody the same. In a very specific situation or problem, we reserve the right to contact [ICE]."

But policies and practices can change, as they did recently in San Francisco, which has begun turning over to immigration officials a number of juvenile offenders released from its jails.

"Every city has the same issue as San Francisco," said Mayor Tom Means. "I don't think we are going to go around and ask, 'Are you legal or not?' I don't think that's appropriate. A lot of it would have to do with what type of crime is being committed. You would have to look at that and come up with a policy in terms of severity."

"It would be very hard to have a policy for all the things you would run into," Barsi said.

"Our agents are highly trained in their ability to get to the bottom of things," said Tim Counts, public affairs officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But like any other law enforcement agency, Counts said, "Our resources are limited. National security concerns get our attention first. We are not omnipresent."

Counts added that ICE is usually not interested in deportation until after jail time has been served.

Cornell said there are no records on how many undocumented criminals are deported in Santa Clara County. However, Wylie said that when she worked as a detective in Mountain View's sex crime unit, ICE notified her several times a year when a sex offender in Mountain View was going to be deported.

"If you are a child molester, rapist or a murderer we are not going to protect you from ICE," Wylie said.

Former gang members have told the Voice that the city's gang members are predominantly Surenos, or "Southerners," who have recently immigrated or whose parents have immigrated from Central or South America.

Police say that the vast majority of immigrants from Central and South America are not violent criminals of any kind. The Mountain View Police Department continues to have a policy of not helping ICE with raids that aim to capture and deport the many undocumented workers who are working and living peacefully in the U.S.

Last year, police Chief Scott Vermeer stated that his department has "no role enforcing federal immigration laws ... unless the safety of the general public is at stake." He added that "all emergency services are totally disinterested in immigration status."

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com MAKE THE CALL: Under Santa Clara County's unwritten policy, certain crimes prompt law enforcement officials to report the immigration status of juveniles and adults to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Those crimes are: Murder Robbery Sexual assault Assault with serious bodily injury Multiple burglaries Major fraud Source: Santa Clara County district attorney's public information office


Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2008 at 6:52 pm

MVPD should be researching and report the immigration status of people arrested to ICE. How can they arrest some one of one illegal act while not charging them with another illegal act? Absurd, ridiculous, and a mockery of our society based on the rule of law. No wonder we have gangs in this city. No wonder the homicide rate has sky-rocketed.

Like this comment
Posted by Brittanicus
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2008 at 8:54 am

Whose the next innocent legal resident to die a the hands of an illegal alien gang member. Which 'Sanctuary city' in violation of Federal law, is going to be the scene of another cold-blooded murder of an innocent victims. First Jamiel Shaw in Los Angeles and now the Bologna Father and two sons slaughtered, in a growing car rage incident.

Over the years since 'Sanctuary cities' became an abhorrent label, how many murders have been committed been hidden by the liberal court system and its timid thrall Hopefully Independents party members stop this travesty of our immigration laws Demanding pledges from both Obama and McCain, Reid, Pelosi and all the retinue, who are supposed to swear an oath of allegiance to all Americans, against enemies domestic and foreign.

We must not let the biased liberal media slowly fade this heinous crime into the background. The Federal government (ICE) needs to descend on Sanctuary cities across America and arrest the pathetic Mayors, and city prosecutors for aiding and abetting illegal immigrants in violation of Section 274 felonies under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, INA 274A(a)(1)(A):

I do hope that both victims begin a 'Class Action lawsuit, against the cities and all those elected official involved for billions of dollars. If you want to stop this travesty of our immigration laws, stop the next AMNESTY. Join NUMBERSUSA for free faxing.

Like this comment
Posted by Bobby
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2008 at 8:56 am

You people have to be nuts. You are endangering your friends, relatives and even yourselves by pretending massive numbers of foreign nationals are all just "doing jobs Americans don't do" and have no other reason for being here. Good luck, you kooks, intelligent people will just move away from you.

Like this comment
Posted by Buzzml
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2008 at 8:57 am

There isn't enough difference between Santa Clara County/the Bay Area, and San Francisco, to even make a note of it. Let's face it, California is a sanctuary state, and billions of dollars are wasted on the betterment of illegal immigrants, rather than the citizens of California, all while Governor Schwarzenegger speaks woeful;y of the state budget deficit, while turning a blind eye to the problem of illegal immigrants sucking up the state, and federal government, benefits.

Sanctuary Cities

Web Link


Job #1. Build the Legislated Fence!!!
Job #2. Mandate E-Verify for ALL Employees!!!
Job #3. Mandate E-Verify for ANY Benefit!!!
Job #4. Stop the Underground Economy!!!
Job #5. End Birthright Citizenship for Illegals!!!
Job #6. End Chain Migration!!!
Job #7. Make English our Official Language!!!
Job #8. Cut Off Federal Funds to Sanctuary Cities!!


Like this comment
Posted by Buzzml
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2008 at 8:58 am

Let's face it, if the Santa Clara County politicians, had any balls, or cared about the citizens, they would have had Law Enforcement officers attend 287(g) training, so they could distinguish illegals, and turn them over to I.C.E.

Instead they have the good citizens supporting 5-6 million illegal immigrants, and their large broods. Each illegal immigrant student costs taxpayers, on average, $11,582 per year. Multiply that by well over 1 million illegal immigrant students in California, and you will know why we have a state budget deficit.

Like this comment
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:01 am

Last year, police Chief Scott Vermeer stated that his department has "no role enforcing federal immigration laws ... unless the safety of the general public is at stake."

This is a city government, not the Special Olympics. You cannot pretend to be that stupid.

Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:03 am

I find it humorous that so many police departments say "we don't ask and so we don't know" and that 'it is not on the booking form" - OK, what is on booking form is Place of Birth.

So take the automated booking information: sort on anyone NOT listing one of the 50 States, Guam, PR, VI, NMI, Swains Island, or American Somoa as POB. Give the list to Immigration. (not the people-the list)

Will there be US Citizens on the list? Yes
Can Immigration quickly determine who is US citizen? Yes
Does being asked about your citizenship voilate your rights? No

I have interviewed thousands of people in prisons, jails and county lockups. "Born in Germany? Father was in US Army stationed there? Thanks have a nice day." - Someone has a 'foreign sounding name'? I didn't interview based on that - I pulled everyone who was not born USA. No lawsuits or complaints.

Like this comment
Posted by pio
a resident of Castro City
on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:04 am

a foreigner criminal vs an local criminal !
killing people in many country around the world.....
like Afghanistan or Iraq, make the illegal immigrant look like innocent
the organized crime from a very high level of the government
is way bigger
maybe he just want some "social integration"

Like this comment
Posted by bill
a resident of Castro City
on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:04 am

people are going to have to fix this nightmare for themselves, because the goverment bodies that created the current realities do not care. this is what they wanted. sink or swim america

Like this comment
Posted by C L
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:05 am

What ignorant loonies. Immigrants, more often than not, are the victims of crimes. Studies have consistently show that they commit crimes at a lower rate than the native born. It is the anti-immigrant propaganda that is fueling the killings of innocent immigrants, like the recent murder of an immigrant in Pennsylvania.

Ramos' lawyer has stated his client is not in the US illegally, but this is irrelevant to the anti-immigrant crowd.

Like this comment
Posted by Enough
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:05 am

It's all about money for the police dept. They spend all their time along California Ave between Castro and Showers dealing with illegal immigrants. Then they go to the city council every year asking for more money. Talk about a self-licking ice cream.

Like this comment
Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:06 am

We seem to have lost the thread, so I reposted it.

Like this comment
Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Political correctness aside (a main cause of illegal immigration) the police should ask the question and then work to deport them. In a more rational political environment we could work to substantially rid the city of illegals with attendant reductions in crime, school decline, crowding, etc. I know that is an unobtainable dream in Mountain View. Costs? We are sending our son to to a private to avoid the collapsed middle school. We had hoped to send him to Graham until recently.

Posted by Mntn Maven, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Jul 27, 2008 at 12:04 pm


What a mess. Graham is on the good side of El Camino, yet Hispanics out number whites and Asians. Just look at these scores: Web Link It is beyond idiotic that I have to pay for private school and a butt-load of taxes.

Yeah, I'm pissed. You can call me un-PC, if it make you feel better.

Posted by USA, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Jul 28, 2008 at 11:09 am


Are there actually immigrants in Mountain View? I haven't been able to tell from reading the paper.
Posted by Jon Wiener, a resident of another community, 9 hours ago

Like this comment
Posted by Don Frances
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Jul 29, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Don Frances is a registered user.

Ned why are you posting other people's remarks? If they were lost somehow, how did you recover them?