To reverse former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, President Biden is working with Democrats in Congress on “sweeping immigration legislation” that includes an eight-year path to citizenship for an claimed estimate of 11 million illegal immigrants. Such drastic reform must be supported by facts, which are hotly debated, and even purposely withheld.
Democrats’ sunny population estimation falls in line with the Pew Research Center’s assessment that 10.5 million illegal immigrants resided in the United States in 2017. The Federation for American Immigration Reform alternatively estimates that 14.45 million illegal immigrants reside in the United States as of 2020.
Much information about illegal immigrants is unknown, including their rate of additional criminality and overall cost burden for taxpayers, which FAIR assesses at $133.7 billion each year. While the Cato Institute estimates illegal immigrants are between 26 and 41 percent less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans, FAIR concludes instead that illegal immigrants are three times more likely to be incarcerated than citizens and legally present immigrants. To be able to refine and even assess the accuracy of such claims, better information is needed.
Yet as Democrats rush amnesty and think tanks clash, legacy media and judicial organizations in charge of providing truth and justice sometimes obscure facts about illegal migrants’ crimes besides breaking immigration law in the growing number of sanctuary states and cities. Consider a case study: the suppression of details about the drunk-driving illegal immigrant who killed Detroit native Gerard “Gary” Kuras in December 2018 in Michigan’s Wayne County, a sanctuary jurisdiction.
Pertinent Facts Go Missing in Detroit
On Dec. 9, 2018, while driving under the influence, 28-year-old Rony Cesar Reyes-Euceda struck 69-year-old Kuras with his pickup truck, causing Kuras to “fl[y] up into the air,” according to a witness. Reyes-Euceda then drove away from the scene. When police were able to stop him, the intoxicated offender threatened to kill the responding officer’s family, Officer Tabitha Sears of the Detroit police testified at the trial, according to a local news outlet.
On Aug. 12, 2019, Reyes-Euceda was sentenced to 59 months to 20 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections for operating with a suspended license, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, and driving under the influence. At his sentencing, Reyes-Euceda admitted fault and apologized for the accident with the aid of a translator.
Local Detroit station Fox 2 News reported the above elements of Reyes-Euceda’s crime, and his punishment, in its online reporting. During a local television broadcast at 6 a.m. on Aug. 13, 2019, the station added another key fact, according to people listening in: Reyes-Euceda is an illegal immigrant from Honduras.
Outside of Twitter, however, no online information I could find confirmed Reyes-Euceda’s status, so in August 2019, I sought proof. When I called the Fox 2 newsroom to learn the information missing from their reporting, the man who answered the phone abruptly hung up on me.
I reached out to law enforcement sources. Although they would not confirm that Reyes-Euceda was illegally inside the United States, they did provide further details. Sources said his crash occurred at 2:48 p.m. on a sunny day, and that Michigan State Police found that Reyes-Euceda’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .221, nearly three times the legal limit of .08.
The same sources confirmed that Reyes-Euceda had previously been charged with operating while intoxicated in Dearborn on Nov. 5, 2016. He entered a guilty plea, and received a sentence of one day in jail, and 24 months on probation. Reyes-Euceda was still on probation from his charge in Dearborn when the fatal crash occurred. At the time, he was driving without a license, and was ineligible to receive one.
Next, I contacted the judge who tried Reyes-Euceda’s case. I left multiple messages expressing interest in the court documents from his trial. She never responded. Finally, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official confirmed that Reyes-Euceda is an “unlawfully present citizen of Honduras.” Prior to his deadly accident, the official stated, “ICE had no prior contact with Reyes-Euceda.”
The Hidden Costs of Criminal Illegal Immigrants
Detroit media and officials’ unwillingness to publicize Reyes-Euceda’s immigration status seems likely to result from a desire to shield the sanctuary city from national debate. After Trump’s January 2017 executive order denied federal funds to cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, Detroit vacillated over whether it is a sanctuary city, a “welcoming city,” or neither.
The Center for Immigration Studies considers Detroit’s Wayne County a sanctuary city. Detroit is not the first city to have its sanctuary status come under scrutiny due to the actions of an illegal migrant who commits additional crimes.
The city of Virginia Beach, Va. found itself at the center of national debate over sanctuary policies in 2007, when drunk-driving illegal immigrant Alfredo Ramos killed 17-year-old Alison Kunhardt and 16-year-old Tessa Tranchant by running into their stopped car at a traffic light. The Virginia Beach Police Department had enacted a “sanctuary policy” in 2005 that prevented officers from asking for the immigration status of those charged with misdemeanor offenses.
The actions of migrants who commit crimes in addition to illegal entry have effects beyond the county and state lines where their other crimes occur. In many state facilities, federal dollars issued via the Department of Justice’s State Criminal Alien Assistance Program cover at least a portion of illegal immigrants’ incarceration costs.
Given that the state of Michigan applied for and received SCAAP funding in 2019, it is likely that Americans across the country will pay a portion of the more than $36,000 annual cost of Reyes-Euceda’s 59-month to 20-year prison sentence.
Jailing Criminals Allowed to Remain Is Expensive
$244 million in SCAAP funding was allocated in 2020. This represents a tiny proportion of the overall annual cost to incarcerate illegal immigrants.
In 2018, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson dissected Government Accountability Office data about criminal illegal immigrant detentions between 2011 and 2016. She found that 730,000 illegal immigrants had been arrested 4.9 million times for 7.5 million offenses during the period.
Allegations included “more than 1 million drug crimes, a half-million assaults, 133,800 sex offenses and 24,200 kidnappings…33,000 homicide-related offenses, and 1,500 terrorism-related crimes.” During that period, federal taxpayers spent $2.5 billion per year to imprison criminal illegal immigrants in local, federal, and state facilities.
The Pew Research Center estimates that illegal immigrants make up 3.2 percent of the U.S. population. In 2009, FAIR estimated an average of 5.4 percent of inmates in state and local facilities were illegal immigrants. In 2018, the Department of Justice reported that 26 percent of federal prisoners were “known or suspected aliens.” The Biden administration has censored the term “alien” and others from ICE’s lexicon.
Democrats’ pursuit of amnesty must be driven by facts, but where illegal immigrants are concerned, facts are hard to come by. This is particularly true in sanctuary states and cities, where the criminality of illegal immigrants can be deliberately obscured. It is reprehensible when media and judicial figures choose self-preservation over truth and justice, because illegal immigration affects all Americans.