Immigration officers in Utah arrested a convicted sex offender this week who’d been living and working illegally in the U.S. for most of his adult life and had been ordered to be deported in 2008.
What took them so long? Jesus Guitron-Aguilera, a 56-year-old Mexican national identified as a “field laborer,” had been hiding out in Utah, the only Republican state in the country that gives both driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to illegal aliens.
After his challenge to a deportation order was dismissed in 2010 and a final deportation order issued, Guitron-Aguilera fled. On June 9, 2014, he was seen driving a red Corvette and was stopped by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local police, but managed to escape on foot.
Guitron-Aguilera was arrested as the result of a tip on Tuesday outside his home in Provo, a charming town about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City. In Provo, both the mayor and the police department have made clear they’ll go soft on illegal immigrants, creating an ideal sanctuary for Guitron-Aguilera, who’d been convicted in Michigan in 1992 of felony sexual assault with an attempt to penetrate.
Last February, the Provo police chief instructed his officers that it was not their job to enforce federal immigration laws, and said that they would not work with federal authorities to detain or remove illegal aliens, in order to keep the trust of the Hispanic community.
“Our ability to investigate crime depends on the community’s willingness to partner with us and report crime. That becomes much harder if large segments of immigrant groups are afraid to call us,” Police Chief John King wrote in the memo.
The mayor of Provo, meanwhile, lauded the police chief, upon his retirement the next month, for his “outreach” to the minority community.
More than 100,000 illegal immigrants are living in Utah, according to estimates, about 75 percent of them from Mexico. A 2016 report by the Pew Research Center found that one in 20 workers in the state is an illegal immigrant.
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The most recent statistics from the Utah Department of Corrections show that almost 20 percent of prison inmates in the state are Hispanic, while Hispanics are estimated by the Pew Research Center to make up only about 13 percent of the total population of Utah. While these are not broken down by legal and illegal immigrants, legal immigrants generally have low rates of crime, making it likely that the illegal immigrant Hispanics in the state commit crimes at very high rates.
“It is a major, major problem in the state,” said Chris Herrod, a former state representative who has opposed Utah’s liberal immigration policies. Herrod just lost the Republican primary election to succeed Rep. Jason Chaffetz to the Provo mayor, John Curtis, whom he accuses of favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Guitron-Aguilera is thought to have been living in Utah since at least the early 90s as he was convicted of several misdemeanors in the state, including two for driving under the influence of alcohol and one for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
In 2010, lawmakers were debating a bill to grant “guest-worker” status to illegal immigrants — granting each a two-year work permit in the state. A similar bill passed the following year, with the support of the Republican governor, Gary Herbert. It did not take effect, however, as it would have required a waiver from the federal government, which Utah is unlikely to ever get. But the bill was interpreted as a “message bill” — letting illegal immigrants know they could live and work in the state without fear.
“Many of us, myself included, tried to warn people that those policies would come back to bite us,” Herrod told LifeZette this week. He said so many illegal aliens came to Utah after the bill was passed that the legislature had to pass a law regulating people who call themselves immigration consultants, as some unscrupulous people were collecting fees from illegal immigrants coming to the state to work, promising them work permits.
Herrod says the state has consistently resisted making it mandatory for businesses with fewer than 15 employees to use E-Verify.
On the media release sent out by ICE, Guitron-Aguilera is listed only as a “field laborer,” and a spokesman for ICE said he had no information about who might have been employing Guitron-Aguilera in the Provo area.
The crimes committed by illegal aliens in Utah, said Herrod, are often hidden by the media, who refuse to identify criminals as being illegally present in the state, and refuse to highlight crimes committed by illegal immigrants.
He points to the case of the illegal immigrant from Mexico who shot and killed two police officers in California in 2014. When President Donald Trump recognized the officers’ widows during his first inaugural address, the Utah newspapers didn’t mention that the man who killed the officers, Luis Monroy Bracamontes, was a twice-deported illegal immigrant from Mexico who was living in Utah at the time of the murders.
“The establishment in this state has really pushed for sanctuary status,” said Herrod, saying there’s an “unhealthy relationship” between illegal aliens and big business in Utah.
“That lobby is very, very strong,” he told LifeZette.
He said Utah’s problem with illegal immigration is getting worse, with nurses at one of the hospitals telling him, “Chris, this is going to bankrupt us,” as the amount of free care provided to illegal immigrants is quickly rising.
In a ride-along with the Utah Highway Patrol, Herrod said he witnessed patrol officers stopping Hispanic immigrants who had no identifying documents on them, and then letting them go, but arresting Americans who were stopped and didn’t have identification.
“‘I don’t have records. I’m illegal.’ And they just let him go,” he said, describing an officer’s interaction with a driver that he witnessed. “That’s what they perceive they’re supposed to do by the governor. I’ve watched that with my own eyes.”