The Spectacle Blog

Ah, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency

By on 4.22.07 | 8:52PM

...and local law enforcement, the epitome of cooperation--NOT!

Case in point is Isidro Pena Soto, an illegal immigrant who, despite probably never having had a driver's license, is responsible for the traffic death of Antioch resident Kent Boone. But that's not all:

Pena, who has used at least three other names, has been arrested or convicted at least nine times dating to 2003, including three for drunken driving, according to the state Department of Motor Vehiclesand the Solano County District Attorney's Office.

The fatal accident came on the two-year anniversary of the Department of Motor Vehicles' notifying Pena by mail that his license was suspended for DUI, according to DMV records. It's not clear why those same records indicate that he had no license and possibly never has, at least under that name.

He has been convicted six times of driving without a license.

Pena was convicted twice for DUI in Contra Costa County, in 2003 and 2005, and for a felony narcotics count in Contra Costa in 2005, according to the DMV and the Solano County District Attorney's Office. He was convicted of DUI in Solano County in 2005.

Records do not show the circumstances of his release. Many people arrested for misdemeanor DUI are released with a citation after a short time in jail.

Of course, no one can explain how Pena "slipped through the cracks."
ICE personnel routinely visit County Jail in Martinez to check the immigration status of arrestees there, as well as in other major metropolitan areas.

The California Highway Patrol checked and determined that Pena was an illegal immigrant during the investigation of the March 31 accident because officers could not verify he had a valid identification, said Solano County CHP spokesman Marvin Williford.

An ICE spokeswoman said no one ever told the agency about Pena.

"Cases like this certainly underscore why we want to encourage local law enforcement agencies to tell us when they encounter foreign nationals with multiple prior convictions for crimes that certainly present a potential threat to public safety," said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency....

Police departments that confront large immigrant populations say they have worked to build credibility with them and have responded to any perception that they target people because of their immigration status.

"The only time it's a relevant issue is if someone is charged with a crime and we incarcerate them," said Concord police Lt. David Chilimidos.

"We actually treat everybody like they were here legally," said Richmond police Capt. Alec Griffin. "We don't make contacts with ICE just in the course of normal business."

Richmond police have not participated in ICE roundups of suspected illegal immigrants and have stopped daylight traffic checkpoints aimed at street criminals -- because immigrants feared they were the targets, Griffin said.

How Pena remained free despite multiple journeys through the legal system, including in Contra Costa and Solano counties, remains a mystery.

Is it really a "mystery", or just so damn embarassing that the officials are pretending that they are stumped?
Send to Kindle

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article

More Articles From David Hogberg