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Savala: Federal Charges and the Immigration Question

Some people believe Colts line backer Edwin Jackson and Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe's deaths could have been prevented.

INDIANAPOLIS---Federal charges of re-entering the country illegally were filed Tuesday evening against the man man police believe is responsible for the death of a Colts line backer.

Many people are asking if more could have been done that could have prevented Colts line backer and Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe's deaths. Some people believe they already have the answer to that question, and the answer is yes.

Alex G. Cabrera was deported twice-as Manuel Orrega-Savala

Alex G. Cabrera is the alias used by Manuel Orrega-Savala, 37, when he was convicted of driving without ever having had a license in Boone County last year. Savala, who's now accused of having a blood alcohol level nearly three times the limit when police say he hit and killed Jackson and Monroe Sunday, had been arrested several times before and deported twice.

The arrests happened in California in 2005 and 2007. Among other charges was one for drunk driving. He was deported to Guatemala in 2007 and 2009, but got back in.

An argument for the wall?

"What could ICE done when they caught him a second time? Should they have punished him? Do our laws allow for enough punishment?" were questions immigration attorney Paul Gresk said it's reasonable to ask.

"Now you've got to go back and ask could this have been prevent? That's the big question," said Gresk, talking to RTV6. "It's a debate that's being had right now. Some feel like it strengthens the argument, obviously in this community, for the wall."

Holding people for ICE

While the Marion County Sheriff's Dept. no longer holds people on ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) requests, unless there is a warrant, Boone County, where Savala was arrested last year, does hold people, but only for 24 hours.

But, that policy started in October and Savala, then giving the false name Cabrera-Gonsales, was arrested in March. He immediately bonded out.

"He was in our facility for 53 minutes," said a statement from the Boone Co. Sheriff's Dept. "There is no law requiring a notification to be made to ICE when an individual is booked in for not receiving a license, while only possessing an Indiana ID or a Mexican License, and posts bond immediately. Upon completion of book in, he was able to pay bond of $305.00 and released from our custody."

"As of October 2017, an internal policy was put into place by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office stating that if a subject is non- English speaking and cannot give a Social Security Number or proper identification they are required to fill out a US Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service document. Upon completion of this document it is then sent to ICE/Immigration along with a photograph of that subject. We still only hold these individuals for 24 hours after the document is sent, per our internal policy. If we are not contacted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement within the 24 hours from the time of book in, they can bond out, if it is a bondable offense."

A problem sheriffs face

"This is a problem that Sheriff’s across this nation have been facing for many years and it continues to get worse," said Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen.

"The Sheriffs have internal policies that are set to make sure that we walk that thin line of not violating people’s rights, and making sure we identify those folks that are here in the United States illegally."

He said sheriffs hands are tied in most cases.

"Unless these people are entered into the National Crime Information Center Database as a wanted person or a person to be detained, we have no access to check any further. Sheriff’s across this nation need access to databases and other laws to help prevent this from reoccurring."

The Trump Tweet

That leads back to the debate about immigration and the wall. Pres. Trump's Tweet about Jackson's death, saying "We must get the Dems to get tough on the border," upset some people, but was completely justified to others.

"This is the time to be offer our prayers to the families that are grieving and not politicizing their deaths," said Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, talking to RTV6.

"We fully support Mr. Trump's comments," said Dave Gorak, with the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration. "What he is saying is this individual, this NFL player, like many before him, have died at the hands of people in this country illegally."

The federal charges

No matter the political bent, the Savala case is now in the hands of both federal and state authorities, and it is not likely that Savala will be getting out of jail soon.

"The defendant in this case allegedly re-entered the country illegally for the second time before he put the public safety of Indianapolis at risk and took the lives of two innocent men early Sunday morning,” said U.S. Atty. Josh Minkler, who filed the federal charges Tuesday.

“In April, Attorney General Sessions directed all federal prosecutor to prioritize charging aliens that illegally re-enter the country, especially if they are a risk to public safety or there is a criminal history present. Following the rule of law is the foundation of our American democracy, and my office is committed to fulfilling the Attorney General’s directive.”

PHOTO: RTV6

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