Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Criminals Amongst Us: They're Not Just Fruit Pickers

We hear the same old whining about how illegal immigrants come here only for jobs, to live peacefully & to be left alone. That may be for many, but with them come the scum. How do we differentiate between the nice illegal, the scum & the terrorist? With document fraud rampant among illegals, it is even harder to tell. The following is an example of a scum that crossed the border 3 times after being expelled twice, the $44,000 a year he made, the $123,000 Federal Housing Administration loan that allowed him to buy a brand-new house in Winston-Salem, his final arrest for sexual assault & the governments abject failure to control the border & co-ordinate efforts with other agencies. Your government is not watching out for you, folks:

12/11/2005 By Taft Wireback Staff Writer Greensboro News and Record

Although he was ticketed 11 times for speeding and other driving infractions by the Highway Patrol and police in High Point and Winston-Salem, none of the traffic stops resulted in his detention as an illegal immigrant, a prior deportee or a potential threat to public safety.

That's true even though at least one of his stops in High Point occurred after police officers suspected they'd interrupted a crime in progress when Hernandez pulled out of a closed car sales lot one night in December 2000.

Neighbors in two cities say he didn't arouse their suspicions. Officials at the company that sold him a home in Winston-Salem say it wasn't their job to check his immigration status.

His employer says Hernandez's documentation checked out "absolutely fine," although -- in hindsight -- some might have been forged.

Police now contend that Hernandez's seemingly nondescript facade hid a night burglar, a masked man with a Spanish accent who terrorized women in Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem in a series of eight sexual assaults between May 2004 and Feb. 22, 2005.

Today, Hernandez is in the Forsyth County jail awaiting trial in Forsyth and Guilford counties. Federal immigration authorities also have issued a detainer on him, meaning they want to deport him again once he is either acquitted of the state charges or is convicted and serves prison time.

Local police often are deceived similarly by illegal immigrants posing as legal residents or visitors and perhaps hiding a criminal background, according to some law enforcement officials.

These incidents highlight a dangerous disconnect between the various levels of government in the United States and a gaping hole in its defenses against all sorts of terrorism, said Randy Jones, of the Alamance County Sheriff's Department, a local police agency that is particularly aggressive in combating crime linked to illegal immigration.

"I'm not saying that we think everybody who is doing this is a terrorist," Jones said. "But you don't have to be extremely intelligent to figure out where this all could lead if it can be done by some Juan Doe who might not even be able to read or write.

"What's to stop an al-Qaida operation from doing exactly the same kind of thing, only with more financing so they can do it even better? This isn't anti-Hispanic or anti-immigrant. It's anti-crime, and we better get a handle on it."

Jones said his department does background checks on people of questionable nationality who have been detained for minor crimes. The cumbersome federal system can take up to two weeks to respond, but too often, the answer is that the person is an illegal immigrant with a criminal history, Jones said.

"They say you don't have the guy you thought. He's this other person and he's a criminal, illegal alien who was deported on drug trafficking charges," Jones said. "But by then, he's bonded out (on the local charge) and long gone."

Jones noted the federal government has four agents to handle immigration violations in the state. The overworked agents concentrate on serious felons, not bad drivers.

Besides numerous driving infractions, Hernandez apparently had a clean record other than his two deportations, one in 1997 from Greenwood, S.C., and the other in October 2002 from Douglas, Ariz., near the Mexican border.

Hernandez apparently arrived first in the Piedmont Triad in the late 1990s as a teenager.

He accumulated documents that indicated he was an approved guest worker, including a green card, a social security card and an N.C. identification card issued by the state Division of Motor Vehicles. He later was able to get a full-fledged driver's license from the DMV, despite his bad driving record.

His documents checked out as valid in the screening done by his most recent employer, North State Flexibles, said Judy Blaine, the company's director of human resources.

Hernandez passed three background checks during the course of two stints working as a press operator for the printing company and a temporary agency that initially brought him to the Greensboro firm, Blaine said.

His income was $850 a week, Hernandez said in court papers.

But even though Hernandez's documentation checked out, some of it still might have been fraudulent, according to Insight, the screening agency that checked him for North State Flexibles.

The facade that Hernandez prepared also was good enough to deceive bankers holding the keys to home ownership. He was able to buy a house in Winston-Salem in February 2004 with a loan backed by the FHA, only 16 months after another arm of the federal government -- the U.S. Border Patrol -- deported him after stopping him in Arizona.

Mulvaney Homes, developer of the North Oaks neighborhood, where Hernandez bought his house, said Hernandez secured his loan through a lender the real estate company doesn't work with often. "We expect the lender to do their job at the approval level," said John Lewis, an executive with Mulvaney Homes.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which supervises the FHA program, prohibits banks from giving federally guaranteed loans to illegal immigrants. Former neighbors in the North Oaks development and on Elmhurst Avenue in High Point said they never questioned the immigration status of Hernandez and his wife, who have two children.

Hernandez's lawyer cautions against passing judgment on his involvement in the sexual assaults before he gets his day in court. The only evidence police have against Hernandez so far seems to be DNA from the various assaults, which was analyzed by the state crime lab, said Paul James, of the Forsyth County Public Defender Office.

But if nothing else, Hernandez's story illustrates how easy it is for an illegal immigrant to assume the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship with very little risk of detection, even in the face of some fairly reckless behavior behind the wheel and run-ins with local law enforcement.

In 11 traffic stops between mid-1998 and this past June, Hernandez was charged by police four times for speeding, seven times for having no driver's license or a false license, three times for not having proper vehicle registration, and once each for running a red light, driving a vehicle not properly registered, displaying an improper license and having no insurance.

Police in Winston-Salem said after his arrest that they linked Hernandez to the assaults after he became a suspect in a burglary investigation in August. He was arrested in October and charged with four assaults in Winston-Salem on the basis of a DNA sample he surrendered in that investigation.

Greensboro and High Point soon filed charges against him for four more assaults in those cities. One of the Winston-Salem assaults occurred on the street where Hernandez lived before moving to his new house in North Oaks, according to court records.

Two High Point officers spotted his 1996 van pulling out of a closed car lot on Ward Avenue in the dead of night. One officer pulled over Hernandez and an unidentified passenger, and the other checked the business for evidence of a break-in but found nothing visibly amiss. The officers ticketed Hernandez for having no driver's license, his third such offense in three years, but apparently didn't look into Hernandez's background any further.

It's hard to say whether they should have, said High Point police Lt. Angela Tackett. "I'm not going to second-guess another officer; it depends on the circumstances of the situation and the officer handling the case," Tackett said. "With the growing Hispanic population, if you do that to everyone you stopped, you'd spend your entire day trying to figure out if someone is here illegally."

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