Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Inside an ICE raid
I was with a man named Almaraz Reveles Gonzalo as U.S. immigration agents literally handed him to Mexican immigration agents at the border fence where San Ysidro, California, meets Tijuana, Mexico.

Gonzalo is accused of being an illegal immigrant. But unlike other illegals who are brought back to Mexico, and then quickly try again to come back to the United States, its unlikely we'll soon see Mr. Gonzalo back here. That's because back in Mexico Gonzalo is an accused murderer, and the Mexican government encouraged the United States to find him and send him back home to meet justice.

Gonzalo is one of dozens of illegal immigrants accused of violent crimes in their home countries that the Los Angeles field office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (known as ICE) have tracked down. Finding dangerous criminals who have decided to hide out here is an assignment being given a higher priority nationwide by ICE. It's not known how many such suspects are in the United States, but ICE does say it is looking for 632,000 illegal immigrants who have broke some type of law while in the United States (usually a non-violent crime) and are considered fugitives.

Gonzalo is charged with killing his elderly uncle during a land dispute. In the pre-drawn hours, we watched California ICE agents raid the Los Angeles-area home that Gonzalo shared with his wife and children. When Gonzalo's wife opened the door, agents found Gonzalo still in bed with one of his children.

They took him away, but never told him about the murder charge. (They also told CNN that in order to observe the raid, we couldn't tell him either.) ICE says it is up to Mexican officials to inform Gonzalo of his murder charges. If U.S. officials were to tell him, it could complicate ICE's desire to kick him out of the country. After capture, Gonzalo is given a choice. He is told he can stay in jail in California or be brought back to Mexico. Going back home sounds like the better choice to him because he assumes he'll be free. But he assumes wrong.

U.S. authorities place him in the custody of Mexican authorities who prepare to fly him to his home state of Zacatecas and put him in jail. But as we walk with Mexican police to a waiting van, we notice they still haven't told him about the murder charge. They say that will happen before Gonzalo gets on the plane. But because we're no longer operating under our "agreed to" ICE guidelines, I break the news to Gonzalo.

"They say you killed your uncle," I say to him. "Did you?"

"No," he replies, not looking surprised at the question.

I ask him again. One more time, a nonchalant, "No."

And then he is loaded up in the van and gone. His wife and children remain in California, but Almaraz Reveles Gonzalo's quick goodbye to them just hours earlier might have been the last time he sees them as a free man.

-- By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 10:47 AM ET
OK, that leaves 11,999,999 to go and then we can start over.
Posted By B. Clark, Decatur, IL : 11:25 AM ET
First of all, I don't understand why this man is given a choice to "stay in a California jail" at the taxpayers' expense (unless he's in a holding pattern until the authorities round up enough of his "buddies" to fill up a jet).

Second, I find it interesting that that U.S. officials have such an accurate count on the number of illegal criminals and only have a mile-wide approximation on the number of illegal immigrants in our country. At this point, everyone is saying it's 12,000,000 to 20,000,000. There's some accuracy for ya!!

Lastly, I'm not against immigrants coming to this country or taking advantage of what it has to offer (as long as they do it legally and pay the same taxes I pay); however, I'm opposed to amnesty and circumventing the system as a matter of convenience. That's what the president (and most of the Congress) is trying to do and the American people are simply not having it. I have never looked forward to NOT voting for a bunch of Congressmen as much as I do for the next election. I can't wait!
Posted By Anthony - Jasper, IN : 11:54 AM ET
Who cares whether he killed someone in Mexico or not? The fact is that he is a foreign national in this country illegally. I'd like to think that the Mexican authorities are actually doing their jobs in this case. I know that's a stretch but let me dream for now.
As B. Clark indicates, we only have to run off 1,999,999 more.
Posted By A. Roy Olson, Tucson AZ : 12:21 PM ET
Oh, what a load of bullcrap.

Illegals kill Americans everyday, and CNN's pushing sob stories.

Try covering the REAL problems - like my neice killed by a 9-TIME DRUNK DRIVING ILLEGAL who just hopped the border rather than face charges.
Posted By Bob, Houston, TX : 12:23 PM ET
632,000 criminals they are looking for here in the US?? Lot of Mexican illegals around here in Alabama so this doesn't make me feel like I'll be sleeping soundly.

We're letting in criminals, terrorists, and others who will break the law to get in but we drag our heels on the ones that take the time and trouble to go through the legal process. Something is backwards here.
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 12:36 PM ET
In your report you mentioned that ICE is looking for an additional 632,000 illegal immigrants that have commited some kind of crime. Maybe I am missing something but if they are here illegally they all have committed a crime and should be brought to justice and sent back to Mexico. We worry about the families being seperated by deportation because kids were born here, sorry but if they did things legally they would not have this problem. Its not like they worry about the strain they are putting on legal citizens, the hospitals, emergency rooms, welfare and everything else they sponge from the U.S. so why should we worry or even care what happens. Illegal is a crime, if I did something illegal I would be punished and do you think anyone would truly care about my kids, my family?

I am tired of going to the ATM and having to pick a language, calling places and having to select a language. This is a strain on me and they do not care, why do we need to cottle these people. If they want to be amercian citizens the language is english, learn it or leave.
Posted By R.L. Fayetteville, NC : 1:06 PM ET
I think that the United States government should do everything it can do to find all the illegal aliens from all over the world who have come to this country and deport them all back to where they came from.

Yes it will cost billions, but we as Americans need to take care of our country better. Criminals escaping prosecution and jail time in their own country by coming over here to the United States only to do more crime is a prime example of what is wrong with our borders and immigration policies. We are just not taking care of our country well and one day we may regret it.

Geoge Bush is looking out for businesses who make their millions off of these illegal aliens through offering amnesty to the illegals. He just has it so wrong! The more illegal aliens we can deport the stronger the message will be that the United States does not accept illegal aliens in this country.

The United States needs to only accepted immigrants when they PROPERLY apply for citizenship in this country.
Posted By Madeliene Bolden; Atlanta, Georgia : 2:47 PM ET
good-bye! good riddance! good job ICE!! sooooo glad to hear "good news" stories like this one! thank you CNN!!
Posted By Mark, Sacramento, CA : 3:24 PM ET
can someone out in blogosphere get the ICE to load up busfuls of illegals at their next rally or demonstration?? if you are NOT a legal citizen (like all the illegal immigrants), does one have or not have the "right to gather/demonstrate" whatever/however it's worded legally???
Posted By Sam, Houston, TX : 3:26 PM ET
Good job to the ICE :-)
Posted By Stan, Boise, ID : 3:27 PM ET
Sheesh!! Whatever happened to: "DEAD or alive"?!?
Posted By Susan, Malibu, CA : 3:34 PM ET

I do not agree with you speaking to the man about killing his uncle. Whether technically you were still "observing the raid" or not, I think you were still bound by the agreement you made with ICE. Regardless of how right or wrong it is, the deal is that the Mexican police inform the guy about the charge, not ICE or the American press. I think what you did was interference and ICE has a hard enough job as it is.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 5:06 PM ET
First...I have no problem whatsoever with immigrants. BUT...you won't get any tears out of me over a murderer who is being sent back to his homeland to face criminal charges. Are you kidding me with this attempt to elicit sympathy for this man??? He's a MURDERER. M-U-R-D-E-R-E-R. Even if he's just being accused of it, I don't want him in this country. Sympathy?? NOT. I've been accused of being a bleeding heart liberal, but this is absurd.
Posted By Denham Springs, LA : 5:15 PM ET
Well Now, is this the type of illegal alien that those dummies in D.C. are desparately trying to award amnesty to and put on a path to U.S. Citizen?

With jerks like those Pols in the capitol the American people don't need enemies.

Thanks for taking my call.
Posted By Rollo Rogers, San Diego, CA : 7:14 PM ET
I also oppose a widespread amnesty for illegals ...


1) the US does not have a national langauge, despite what some posters think, and it is perfectly acceptable to be born in the US and never learn to read or write English. Multiple langauges on ATMs and ballots are not aimed at illegal aliens; they are aimed at Americans who prefer to speak or read languages other than English and legal permanent residents and refugees who are here in the US legally but come from foreign countries where English is not spoken. This phjenopmenon is here tostay, especially in states with large foreign-born populations or large ethnic communities like Florida, California, Texas, New York ... BTW, Puerto Rico is not a State but the residents are Americans, and the langauge they usually speak is Spanish not English.

2) the reasons the family separation issue comes up iare that

a) the illegals choose to leave there American kids in the US rather than taking them home to the illegal parents' home country. This is a choice the illegals make, not a cruel US policy.

b) the 24th ammendment to the US copnstitution which specifies that any one born in the US and subject to it's laws is a US citizen (that is to say everybody who is not the child of a diuplomat who is on the offical list of those granted diplomatic immunity and thereby not subjedct ot US laws). Per the 14th amendment, a child born to an illegal alien caught trafficking drugs who is born while MOM is in ICE detention awaiting deportation is an American Citizen. I think it is time to change the 14th Amendment to require that citizenship only accrues at birth to the children of people who are in the US legally, and I would go so far as to say citgizenship should accrue only to those whose parents have some sort of long term permission to stay in the US (student visa, H1B visa, visa for atheltes/artists, visa for executives, those granted refugee status or asylum, legal permanent residents, etc.) Foreign women should not be able to come to the US on a tourist visa for the purpose of giving birth to an American citizen "anchor babay" who can file an immigrant visa petiton for the parents to immigrate legally as soon as gthe child turns 21 ... the world has changed and it is time for US law to change with it ...
Posted By Camille, Alexandria, Virginia : 8:49 PM ET
Gary, I'm finally seeing some comments that address the issue of your story rather than just more Mexican bashing. I agree with the person who said the Mexican authorities, not you, should have told the man about the charges. I am also appalled at the people I see who have diverted from your story simply to express their wishes that all Mexicans be gone from the U.S. Only one blogger thought of the person the man in question allegedly killed.

I live in Mexico and I've lived all over the world for 30 years. I have never seen a country (including Mexico) that lets people just move in like the U.S. allows people to do. It really is quite beyond my comprehension in how the Americans must be thinking to let things get so out of hand, especially after the last amnesty which was supposed to stop what was then a little problem. However, that is no reason to snub Mexican authorities or bash Mexicans. I find what I'm reading quite disturbing, but then, the Mexicans have welcomed me and accepted me as one of their own, so I guess I just don't understand the cruelty with which some people express their thoughts.
Posted By Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 9:58 PM ET
It's very simple: go back from where you came from.
Posted By Christina-Marie, Chicago, IL : 12:01 PM ET
I'm not against people coming into this country, after all we are a country built on imigrants. However, something needs to be done because as we can see, the current solution isn't working.
Posted By Holly Anne, CA : 12:03 PM ET
The problem isn't so much that these are illegal imigrants, as that they are criminals. The majority of illegal imigrants are not murderers and criminals. We need to fix the first problem and then work on the second, but having criminals running around is not a good thing.
Posted By Kelly Sue, New York, NY : 12:08 PM ET
I don't get what the sympathy is for illegal immigrants. When you knowingly enter a country without permission, you have to assume that deportation is a possibility. If you are a murderer to boot, you should be glad that you had however many months or years of freedom in the US before going to your hole of a jail cell in Mexico.

I don't understand this attempt to illicit sympathy from the public for a murderer and people who break our laws by the simple fact of being in this country.

Kill the amnesty bill until there is REAL border security. Cut off social services to those here illegally, TRULY punish employers who hire illegals, and then make it more effective, efficient and desirable to come to this country legally, while ensuring that those coming here are not criminals or carrying disease.

The amnesty bill is being rammed down Americans throats and it is sickening. If those morons in Washington don't get smart quick there will be a real uprising the likes of the Boston Tea Party in this country, because the people are fed up. We have to get smart as voters and take our country back before it no longer exists.
Posted By Nestor, Austin, TX : 12:18 PM ET
To "Gypsy, American in Mexico":
So how is being opposed to amnesty for illegal aliens "Mexican Bashing"? How is being opposed to the flood of illegal aliens coming across our borders "Mexican Bashing"? I think only one poster besides you even used the word "Mexican". Exactly how are citizens of Mexico supposed to be referred to? Just seems to me that most people from Mexico are Mexicans..but maybe thats just me.

I think what most people are opposed to are a flood of people sneaking into the US, draining our social services, having anchor babies, and "demanding" the same rights as US citizens.
Posted By Perry, Dallas, Texas : 4:00 PM ET
Can the mods. please monitor the IP addresses to verify from which city they are coming?

Someone posted using my name Christina-Marie, Chicago. While I can't say I disagree with the sentiment of the comment posted, and am flatterd that the mystery commentor wants to use my name, I suggest people post under their own names. It's called being brave and following your own bliss. Thank you.
Posted By xtina - chicago, IL : 4:54 PM ET
thanks perry in dallas, tx we're not mexi-bashing, that is correct. we are all just weary of seeing the drain on our country's resources, with little given in return, let alone thanks/thankfulness. since when did we lose the right to not want certain people in our country?? foreigners' rights have usurped citizens' rights; just like the rights of criminals have usurped the rights of victime/the public. we have become a truly SICKO country... up is down, and wrong is right :-)
Posted By Mark, Sacramento, CA : 6:48 PM ET
Gypsy, probably the reason the government of Mexico welcome you is because you are wealthy. I have looked at the requirements for living in Mexico, and it seems to me that it would take a LOT of money to do so.

Rest assured, though, that if you decided to become a citizen of Mexico, you would NEVER have all of the rights afforded to people who were born there. This is not the case in the U.S. When someone becomes a citizen here, they get all the rights that natural-born citizens have.

I may feel sorry for this man for being accused of a crime he said he didn't commit. I do not feel sorry because he is an illegal immigrant and was sent back. He had a choice in that matter.

Xtina, do you realize how many thousands of people post on this site? You probably aren't the only Christina-Marie in Chicago.
Posted By Linda, Ottawa, KS : 9:26 AM ET
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