Immokalee Stabbing Shows Another Side of Immigration Debate

Brent Batten, Naples News, Dec. 21, 2009

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[N]o sooner than does a series of articles about the Collier County Sheriff’s Office program to deport troublesome illegal aliens conclude than an illegal alien is in the headlines, and not in a good way.

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[A]long comes Mauricio Escalante. The 33-year-old illegal immigrant was arrested Saturday for stabbing to death a 17-year-old on the streets of Immokalee.

The teenager’s affront that set off the fatal confrontation–daring to speak English in America.

According to Sheriff’s Office reports, around 3 a.m. Saturday Charlie Guzman and some friends gathered at the laundry of an apartment complex on Colorado Avenue. Three others, including Escalante, were already there and the two groups began talking until a dispute erupted over the victim’s group speaking English, not Spanish.

Escalante went to a nearby apartment, got a knife, and fatally stabbed Guzman, according to reports.

So much for the notion that illegal immigrants are universally a hard-working, law abiding set committed to doing the jobs Americans won’t do, all while trying to assimilate.

While plenty of people in the community of illegal immigrants, a majority, no doubt, fit that description, there are bad actors in the group.

The bad actors are the ones targeted by the sheriff’s program. For proof of that, one need look no further than Escalante. A year ago, he wound up in jail because deputies found him so drunk he was deemed to be a threat to himself or others.

But being drunk out of your mind in public isn’t the sort of thing that gets you deported under the sheriff’s system.

“Until the murder, he didn’t have a criminal history with us,” Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Karie Partington said.

In two years, about 2,200 illegal immigrants have been either deported or are awaiting deportation through the sheriff’s efforts. Among that many cases, there are bound to be a few where the triggering offenses seem minor or the hardship upon family members here legally seems great.

But there are hardships to be borne by turning a blind eye toward illegal immigrants among us.

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