Wichita — Jorge Elizalde-Juarez raced through central Kansas with 12 illegal immigrants wedged into his Ford Expedition until a Chase County sheriff’s deputy pulled him over for speeding.
He had already been deported seven times before that July traffic stop. But procedural and technological changes in the way the U.S. tracks repeat immigration offenders meant Elizalde-Juarez would likely land in prison for the latest instance.
Elizalde-Juarez, 23, pleaded guilty Thursday to illegal re-entry after deportation and transporting illegal immigrants. If a judge accepts his plea agreement, the Mexican citizen will be sentenced to 14 months in prison.
“He has never been convicted of any crime in the United States, until today,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson said after the hearing.
His attorney, Syovata Edari, declined to comment.
If Elizalde-Juarez is caught again in the United States, he could be prosecuted for aggravated re-entry and sentenced to four years in prison, Anderson said.
The prosecution credited tougher sentences to a government effort that began in 2003 to stop sending illegal immigrants back without first making a record that identified them. That, with technology advancements that link criminal and immigration databases, are giving prosecutors and judges powerful new tools.
The database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation can now communicate with the computers kept by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A centralized database brings up a person’s criminal history, plus his deportation past.