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11-19-2012, 06:45 PM #1
Prosecutors in Mobile argue immigrant's prior deportation warrants jail
Prosecutors in Mobile argue immigrant's prior deportation warrants jail, but judge says time served
By Brendan Kirby | email@example.comPress-Register
on November 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM, updated November 19, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Jose Cortez-Aguilar ... sentenced to time served for immigration violation.
MOBILE, Alabama -– An illegal immigrant from Mexico who admitted to using fraudulently obtained identification to work for a manufacturer in Satsuma received the same time served sentence this morning that three of his co-workers got.
Federal prosecutors argued that Jose Angel Cortez-Aguilar deserved somewhat harsher punishment -– three months in jail -– because he was the only one of the four who previously had been deported from the United States.
“This individual is not similarly situated,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Bodnar said.
But Chief U.S. District Judge William Steele disagreed.
“I don’t see any reason to give you anything less than a low-end guideline sentence,” he said.
Cortez-Aguilar, 27, will not be incarcerated any more than the three weeks he was in jail after his arrest earlier this year. He does, however, face likely deportation to Mexico. If for some reason, immigration officials do not deport the defendant, he will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for three years, Steele ruled.
Cortez-Aguilar is one of five employees of U.S. Coatings to be indicted on charges that they purchased non-driver’s license identification cards from a criminal ring operating out of St. Joseph, Missouri, in order to evade immigration laws. That organization used personal information stolen from real people to produce thousands of ID cards that they sold to illegal immigrants across the country.
Three other defendants, Jorge Larosa-Nicho, Victor Aguilar-Paz and Werner Hernandez, all have received time-served sentences. The fifth man, whose first and middle names are Mauricio Angel and whose last name is unknown, left the area before authorities could arrest him.
Bodnar told Steele that prosecutors recognize that the defendants were not using the ID cards to drain people’s bank accounts or commit other similar crimes. But he argued that Cortez-Aguilar already had gotten a break since prosecutors declined to seek identity theft charges, which could have resulted in a mandatory-minimum prison term of two years.
The defendant’s wife, Jeannie Borrero Cortez, said that she has been working since his arrest while he has been taking care of her children.
“He meant no harm,” said Cortez, who is an American. “He was just trying to take care of his family.”
Defense attorney Clark Stankoski echoed that theme.
“He has switched roles,” he told the judge. “He’s taking care of all five kids. He’s working hard. That’s a big adjustment for him.”
The Obama administration has re-prioritized deportations, focusing on those illegal immigrants who commit crimes. But in an interview after today’s hearing, Stankoski said the policy leaves people like his client in limbo. Remaining in the United States may not in and of itself lead to deportation, he said, but it still is illegal to work.
“You’re just stuck. … He has no ability to do anything except being a house parent,” he said.
Similar charges remain pending against several other people who worked that U.S. Coatings, but their cases are unrelated to the criminal organization in Missouri.
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