Criminal Justice vs. Immigration: Which System Is Worse?

This morning’s Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on an illegal immigrant whom we can’t seem to get rid of: “3 times deported, killer still here.” What seems most outrageous to me is that the illegal in question, Mario Montalban-Ramirez, has committed at least two murders without incurring significant punishment:

Mario Montalban-Ramirez, 61, was convicted of manslaughter in Illinois in 1982, convicted of murder in Texas in 1984 and sent back to his native Mexico three times — in 1996, 1997 and 2003 — for being in the United States illegally. He also has been a frequent customer in local jails, locked up for such offenses as DWI, theft, assault and being a fugitive from justice.
So how is it that Montalban-Ramirez, who often goes by the name of Oscar Yturria, has been able to spend much of the past two decades in Minnesota — including several visits to jail since his last deportation?

Do tell. Here is the worst part:

Illinois Department of Corrections officials confirmed last week that Oscar Yturria was convicted in Cook County, Ill., of voluntary manslaughter in 1982 and sentenced to four years behind bars. He was turned over to the custody of the prison system on June 25, 1982. …
He remained under Illinois prison authority until Feb. 28, 1985. But in April 1984, Montalban-Ramirez, still going by the name Oscar Yturria, stabbed a man to death in Texas.

Do the math. After his first killing, Montalban-Ramirez was jailed for less than two years.

Texas records show that Montalban-Ramirez pleaded guilty to murder in October 1984 and was sentenced to eight years in prison. …
Despite the eight-year sentence, Montalban-Ramirez served just two years behind bars before he was again paroled in 1986. He was not deported.

So, after committing two murders for which his punishment was risible, Montalban-Ramirez has spent “much of the past two decades in Minnesota” as a petty criminal–petty, anyway, as far as we know; it is entirely possible that he has committed more serious crimes for which he has not been caught or prosecuted. Still, his Minnesota rap sheet is long if not particularly impressive:

State criminal records obtained by the Star Tribune show that Montalban-Ramirez — again going by the name Oscar Yturria — was ticketed in Minnesota for driving under the influence in February 1990. Since then, records show he has tallied eight traffic tickets — for violations ranging from speeding to DWI. He also has a Washington County conviction in 1993 for driving without a license.
He’s become a frequent resident of Twin Cities jails. He was booked four times into the Hennepin County jail from March 1996 through September 1998, mostly for alcohol-related offenses.
That put him on the radar of immigration officials, who deported him in 1996 and 1997.
But that wasn’t the end of his legal troubles here. Ramsey County jail records show arrests before and after his deportations.
On May 30, 1997, he was booked for exposing himself and for an immigration violation. On March 11, 2001, he was booked for being a fugitive and felony theft.
On March 17, 2006, he was busted again, for felony assault and being a fugitive. On March 2, 2007, he was jailed for theft of services. Then, on March 19, 2007, he was booked by Metro Transit Police for trespassing.
On May 19, 2007, he was booked for theft and not paying bus fare. Then, on Aug. 5, 2007, he was booked again for trespassing and theft.
Yet the only other deportation on his record is in 2003.

One wonders what makes Minnesota so attractive to Montalban-Ramirez that we can’t seem to get rid of him. Not the climate, presumably. I suspect that he has figured out that Minnesota’s welfare system is considerably more generous than that of Illinois or Texas. (Welfare offices in Cook County used to offer to buy their clients one-way tickets to Minneapolis.) The Strib didn’t explore this side of the story, but it would be interesting to know how much money Minnesota taxpayers have spent on Montalban-Ramirez in various public services, including but not limited to welfare.
The linked article discusses various gaps in the system that allow repeat offenders like Montalban-Ramirez to slip through. Some of those gaps are inadvertent, but others are intentional:

One way to patch the cracks in the system may be the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities program. Jailers automatically run the fingerprints of suspects who are arrested against immigration records and a national crime database. Minnesota, however, does not participate in the program, and civil rights and immigrant groups have voiced concerns that the program could be used to profile people.

The horror! We can all rest easier, secure in the knowledge that Mario Montalban-Ramirez is safe from “profiling”!

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