The case of 42-year-old illegal immigrant Ericka Gonzalez Zuniga is the latest cause célèbre of the pro-illegal immigration set.
If you believe activists’ version of the story, Zuniga was arrested merely for being an undocumented immigrant who showed up at a courthouse where her son was being sentenced.
It’s a case that’s attracted the attention of Texas Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who said he was “disturbed” as to how the arrest went down. After all, Immigration and Customs Enforcement took a mother from a courthouse as her son was being led away to jail. Is there no cruelty this department won’t perpetuate?
You may have guessed there was some information buried pretty deep in the fulminating outrage this generated that made it, well, less outrageous. (You may have also guessed this from reading the headline, but I trust our readership and think your media-spin Spidey sense would have been activated anyway.)
Anyhow, it turns out that Ericka Gonzalez Zuniga was supposed to be removed from this country a solid 15 years ago and has a not insignificant criminal history.
Zuniga was in the Hidalgo County, Texas, court because her son was being sentenced to 20 years for killing a Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher in a Dec. 9, 2018, crash.
Orlando Zuniga Rodriguez was convicted of one count of intoxicated manslaughter last week, according to The McAllen (Texas) Monitor, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
That quickly got lost in what was really important, however: ICE had arrested Zuniga for being illegally present in the United States.
From The Monitor’s story:
“It’s not immediately clear how soon the arrest occurred after the family left the courtroom.
“However, video published by KRGV-TV taken right outside the courtroom shows a young man in tears, saying, ‘[Expletive] the system, it keeps taking my family, bro.’
“The Monitor observed the young man sitting with Zuniga Rodriguez’s family during the sentencing.”
I know I do a lot of complaining about the media, and that’s partially because it’s easy. It’s also because, however, of how conveniently facts get buried.
It was after all of this that a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Nina Pruneda put things in context: Zuniga, who had multiple theft convictions spanning from 2003 to 2010, “was issued a final order of removal by a federal immigration judge on January 4, 2005, and has multiple illegal entries into the United States.”
Even with that, Rep. Gonzalez is Very Unhappy that ICE had the nerve, when it had the opportunity to locate an individual who shouldn’t be in the country, to act to take that person into custody.
Gonzalez, in you’re curious, is the kind of border representative who also doesn’t believe the country needs a wall on its southern border, as an interview from January 2019 shows:
He was not happy with Zuniga’s arrest.
“I was disturbed to learn that ICE arrested Ericka Gonzalez Zuniga at the Hidalgo County Courthouse yesterday,” Gonzalez said in a statement on Friday.
“While lawful, this lacked forethought, incites fear in our community, and may have a detrimental impact on our local justice system. I will be engaging with local leaders and ICE to learn more about this situation and develop appropriate protocols that prevent this from happening again.”
Excellent luck with that.
Zuniga is an illegal immigrant with a rap sheet. Her removal was ordered in 2005, and yet she continued to commit more crimes until 2010. The fact she’s not been convicted of a criminal act in 10 years — not exactly a Herculean moral feat, I’d argue — doesn’t mitigate the fact she was ordered removed from the country 15 years ago.
If you need to locate her at a courthouse, you locate her at a courthouse. These aren’t Gestapo tactics. It’s common sense.
The “appropriate protocols that prevent this from happening again,” Rep. Gonzalez, are a) removing Zuniga from the country and b) implementing a system that ensures she doesn’t return. If this can be done at a venue that doesn’t involve a courthouse, that’d be stellar. If this were permanently effected in 2005, in fact, we wouldn’t be worrying about ICE showing up at a courthouse.
As Jason Hopkins at The Daily Caller points out, this is a shopworn argument for illegal immigration apologists — the idea that courthouses represent “sensitive locations” where law enforcement simply shouldn’t go in pursuit of illegal immigrants.
There are four places under current ICE policy that qualify as “sensitive locations”: schools, places of worship, political demonstrations and hospitals. You can easily come up with moral and ethical reasons all four of these are included. Those who find courthouses sacrosanct in the same way as these other “sensitive locations” are people who have convenient reasons to find them equally sacrosanct.
“Under ICE policy, courthouses are not considered sensitive locations,” Pruneda’s statement read, just in case you weren’t clear.
“In such instances where officers seek to conduct an arrest at a courthouse, every effort is made to take the person into custody in a secure area, out of public view, for the safety of those involved.”
Those are the protocols that need to be followed. All the fulmination in the world from people like Rep. Gonzalez won’t change that very salient slice of reality.
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