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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Guam senator pushes for deportation of criminals

Sen. Rory J. Respicio is joined by stakeholders yesterday morning in a discussion on the deportation of certain convicted criminals who fall under the Compacts of Free Association. (Contributed Photo) GUAM—Sen. Rory J. Respicio was joined by stakeholders in the criminal justice system yesterday morning in a discussion on the deportation of certain convicted criminals who fall under the Compacts of Free Association.

Respicio, chairman of the Committee on Rules, Federal, Foreign & Micronesian Affairs and Human & Natural Resources & Election Reform, hosted a roundtable meeting with numerous stakeholders to discuss the ongoing efforts to deport criminals convicted in Guam.

“Our community is well aware that crime is on the rise,” Respicio said. “Many residents don’t feel safe in their own homes, and our criminal justice system can’t handle the load. There is no reason that this situation should continue at this level when the Compacts of Free Association already provide for the deportation of FAS citizens who are convicted criminals.”

Guam Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas, representatives from Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo’s Office, the governor’s senior policy adviser Arthur Clark, the Mayors Council of Guam, Victims Advocates Reaching Out, the Courts of Guam, local law enforcement officials, and 14 senators were among those in attendance to discuss a provision Respicio authored in Public Law 32-049, that requires the coordination of the deportation of certain convicted criminals who are covered under the Compacts.

The provision requires “Upon conviction of a deportable crime, the Attorney General of Guam shall immediately notify the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, of Guam’s desire to have the COFA citizen deported. The AG shall work closely with the U.S. ICE Division of DHS to ensure all documents related to the conviction and required for deportation are immediately provided to the proper authorities.”

The AG is required to transmit a quarterly report to I Liheslatura, indicating the number of cases forwarded to U.S. ICE, and to publish the report on their website.

Currently, under the terms of the Compacts of Free Association, citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Belau who have entered Guam via the Compact’s provisions are subject to deportation if convicted of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude. They also are subject to deportation if they are sentenced to one year or more for any crime committed in Guam, or if they are repeat offenders of the “driving under the influence of alcohol” statutes.

Respicio said at the roundtable meeting yesterday morning that the agencies handling the rise in crime are struggling, and that the entire criminal justice system in Guam “is near breaking point.”

“DOC is our island’s only prison and it is over capacity, with a federal review ongoing regarding its ability to house inmates,” Respicio said. “The provision I authored in PL 32-049 was designed to alleviate crowded conditions at our prison, and to provide some form of relief for our criminal justice system.”

According to Rapadas, since Public Law 32-049 was passed in July this year, 19 citizens who fall under the Compacts have been convicted of crimes allowing them to be deported. This includes 18 individuals convicted of misdemeanors and one for a felony DUI crime. (PR)

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