The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has an annual budget of nearly $12 billion, nine divisions, planes, helicopters, night-vision and audio spy equipment, fences, dogs, boats, guns, checkpoints, and more than 45,600 agents, yet it can't stop one dirt-poor-but-determined Mexican.
It is difficult to know all the key details of Sergio Alcala-Sanchez's multiple, successful attempts to enter the U.S. illegally only to be caught, imprisoned and deported with only the clothes on his back.
Judges inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana have inexplicably sealed from public view basic court documents involving his border crossings from 1999 to 2008.
Despite the puzzling government secrecy, it appears likely Alcala-Sanchez was first arrested in Orange County for entering the country illegally in January 1999 and, 11 months later, after admitting his guilt in a plea bargain, got an 85-month prison sentence (of which he served only a portion) from now-retired U.S. District Court Judge Gary L. Taylor.
Using a taxpayer-funded lawyer, Alcala-Sanchez--who was born in 1957--appealed that conviction, but lost.
After his release from prison and deportation, he illegally re-entered the U.S. again and served 33 months on a 30-month sentence--that timing might have been in 2005, but isn't clear because of all the secrecy.
Again, after that release from prison and that deportation, Alcala-Sanchez was captured by law enforcement in North Carolina in--Hey! The court finally lifted the absurd veil of secrecy--August 2008.
U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna returned Alcala-Sanchez to federal prison; the foreign national was eventually released and deported again.
You know what happened next.
On Feb. 26, police found Alcala-Sanchez (a.k.a. "Sergio Sanchez," "Sergio Sanchez Alcala," "Juan Gonazlez" and "Ramon Alcala-Campos) in Orange County.
While returning him to the custody of U.S. marshals, federal magistrate Judge Jean Rosenbluth cited the defendant's "extensive criminal history" and "lack of compliance with court orders," warning him not to re-enter this country.
Check back in a year or two so I can update you on this Alcala-Sanchez's latest re-entry.