Murder cases shines spotlight on immigration issue

August 13, 2010 7:51:32 PM PDT
The family of a murdered 14-year-old is speaking out about the arrest of two men accused of killing the teen. The arrests are adding fuel to the immigration debate because one of the suspects is in the country illegally. And not only is that suspect in the country illegally, he's here after being deported twice.

The two capital murder defendants accused of killing Shatavia Anderson, 14, didn't appear in court Friday morning, but the victim's family was there to make a statement.

The teen was killed last Saturday as she walked home to her family's north-side apartment. Police say Melvin Alvarado, 22, an undocumented immigrant, had zeroed in on her, robbed her and shot her in the back as she tried to escape. Investigators say Jonathan Lopez-Torres, 18, who is in the country legally, drove the getaway car.

According to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Alvarado has been deported twice after drunk driving cases but managed to get back here a third time.

That's left Shatavia's family with outrage and sorrow.

"It's a big problem," said Shatavia's uncle, Joe Lambert. "What I'm trying to figure out is how they started coming over here and they can do whatever they want. What you're doing is giving them a green light, telling them you can come over here and do what you want. We can kill anyone we want. They aren't going to do anything but keep us here a little while and then send us back. This is a prime example."

"There's going to be a lot of hurting time," said Shatavia's father, Leroy Anderson. "She was loved by a lot of people, a lot of people."

Both suspects are in the process of getting attorneys.

Shatavia will be laid to rest this weekend. Her family and friends gathered Friday night to remember the teen.

"Now we can bury our angel in peace," said her aunt, Rose Thomas.

"LIKE A SPEEDING TICKET"

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement would not talk about Anderson's case and would not answer specific questions, like why Alvarado wasn't put into prison after being found back in this country following his first deportation.

A spokesperson would say only that deportation to some immigrants is considered a scofflaw.

"It's like a speeding ticket," ICE spokesperson Greg Palmore told us. "There's nothing that prohibits them from coming back in."

Punishment for re-entering the U.S. after deportation is supposed to be federal prison time of up to 20 years.

OBAMA SIGNS IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT BILL

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate convened a special session on Thursday, passing a $600 million bill for immigration enforcement, which President Obama signed this morning.

Even so, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is flexing its muscle in states like Arizona, where it just completed a three-day sweep this week, picking up 63 convicted criminals and fugitives.

The man in charge of ICE, John Morton, says his agency is doing its job, removing undocumented immigrants in record numbers. He says they've removed 380,000 illegal immigrants in the last fiscal year, a third of them convicted criminals.

"If you commit crimes in this country, and get deported and come back illegally, we will prosecute you," said Morton. "We will send you to jail and we're gonna send you home, again."


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