It was the third time in jail for Alfonso Villa, a 20-year-old Mexican citizen who said he was in the United States illegally.
Villa said he’s been booked twice before on traffic violations, and on Thursday was arrested on suspicion of stealing a car and failure to show identification. He wasn’t deported after his two previous jail trips and doesn’t want to go back to Mexico this time, he said.
“People committed worse crimes than that—they don’t get deported,” Villa said, standing in a hallway in Maricopa County’s Madison Street Jail in Phoenix.
Villa is right: Most illegal immigrants jailed in the county get released.
Ten percent of 1,939 noncitizens booked into jail over the last month were targeted for immigration proceedings, statistics show. Of the rest, most are illegal immigrants who will not be deported after their release.