On Wednesday, 45-year-old Mexican citizen Paulino Luna-Gonzalez plead guilty in a federal court to re-entering the United States illegally after being deported on five separate occasions.
The plea was accepted by United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell and the announcement was made yesterday by United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon, according to the United States Justice Department.
On May 13, 2018, while Luna-Gonzalez was being held at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Horry County on state charges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-Enforcement and Removal Operations Deportation Officers located him, according to court evidence.
— ABC News 4 (@ABCNews4) November 14, 2018
According to immigration records, Luna-Gonzalez was both a native and citizen of Mexico. He had been deported five times from the U.S. and was not permitted to re-enter the country.
Luna-Gonzalez faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
Judge Harwell will sentence Luna-Gonzalez after looking over the United States Probation Office reports. Assistant United States Attorney A. Bradley Parham of the Florence office is prosecuting the case.
Luna-Gonzalez’s arrest was made possible by joint efforts by ICE-Enforcement and Removal Operations in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Horry County Police Department.
When President Donald Trump took office, one of his first agendas was imposing stricter penalties for deported immigrants who re-enter the U.S. illegally.
This was attempted in Congress when Rep. Bob Goodlatte introduced H.R. 3004, known as “Kate’s Law,” according to Politifact. It was named after 32-year-old Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant that been deported on five separate occasions, USA Today reported.
On June 28, 2017, the President said, “This law will enhance criminal penalties for those who repeatedly re-enter the country illegally.”
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill on June 29, 2017, however, it did not succeed in the Senate.
The bill would’ve imposed penalties on any immigrant who has been “denied admission, excluded, deported, or removed, or who has departed the United States while an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal is outstanding, and subsequently enters, attempts to enter, crosses the border to, attempts to cross the border to, or is at any time found in the United States.”
The bill would’ve amended Section 276 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, increasing the penalty to 25 years in prison for those convicted of a felony while illegally being in the country.
The current law is limited by imposing a prison sentence of up to 10 years only if the individual was convicted of at least three misdemeanors related to drugs and/or crimes against other people.