The murder of three college students in Newark New Jersey Saturday August 4th proves that even in a society that has witnessed horrific acts of violence in its relatively brief history, we haven’t lost the capacity for being shocked. As the perpetrators are rounded up, the alleged ringleader appears to be Jose Carranza, aka Jose La Chira.
Carranza is an illegal immigrant from Peru who has been in trouble with the law in Newark before. He was indicted by grand juries in New Jersey twice this year — in April on aggravated assault and weapons charges; and in July on 31 counts which included aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13 years old and endangering the welfare of a child he had a duty to supervise.
In both incidents, Carranza was granted and posted bail – a rarity according to Alan L. Zegas, a noted New Jersey defense lawyer.
‘The level of risk of flight increases exponentially when a person is not a citizen of this country and has few, if any, roots here,’ Zegas said in an interview with Fox News.
After being granted bail, Carranza is alleged to have threatened the life of the five year old girl he raped as well as her parents. These threats did not result in his bail being revoked, nor was any efforts made into determining his immigration status as he awaited trial. Even now after his arrest in the triple homicide, the authorities involved in the case are playing down this aspect of the case. Thomas McTigue, assistant prosecutor handling the murder cases stated, ‘Our focus hasn’t been his immigration status.’
Perhaps the reason the Newark prosecutors focus was not on his immigration status was the fact Newark is a ‘Sanctuary City’ – where local officials do not enforce immigration laws. Newark New Jersey adopted ‘Sanctuary City’ policies earlier this year – prior to Carranza’s alleged crimes.
What exactly do these ‘Sanctuary City’ policies do? In a March 1, 2007 story by the north New Jersey newspaper, The Record, Paterson Councilman-at-large Rigo Rodriguez said, ‘The residents of this city must be able to go to the supermarket, ride in a car, walk down our streets, without fear that they will be arrested and not be able to go home that night,’ Rodriguez said. ‘Immigration officials need to deal with illegal immigrants at the border. Their failure to control that is why they end up in our cities.
‘Once they’re here, it shouldn’t be our job to deal with their immigration status,’ Rodriguez said. ‘Once they’re here, they’re members of our community and our role is to make them feel safe and comfortable here. They simply shouldn’t be harassed.’
In essence proponents of these policies like Councilman Rodriguez call for granting the same Fourth Amendment rights, ‘to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,’ to illegal immigrants as to citizens. Cities such as Newark New Jersey then become ‘safe zones’ where illegal immigrants can enjoy the benefits of US citizenship without bearing its costs or shouldering its responsibilities.
Was Carranza granted special treatment because the authorities believed he was an illegal immigrant? Was the Newark prosecution or the judge on his prior cases afraid to consider Carranza’s immigration status when granting bail for fear of causing a firestorm of controversy in the large Latino community?
And finally, how did an illegal immigrant from Peru have the money to post $200,000 worth of bond? Even at 10% someone would have had to come up with $20,000 – a sum that an illegal immigrant would be unlikely to have.
Three young American students are dead and another grievously wounded at the hands of a murderer and his motley crew. While ultimate responsibility lies with the killers, there can be no doubt that Newark’s justice system failed those kids that Saturday night in that New Jersey schoolyard.
Scott Kirwin is a freelance writer living in Delaware.