Virginia's North High School yearbook photo.
Another yearbook photo, with Virginia on the left.
A stunning development regarding the case of deported teen Virginia Gutierrez: Twelve days after Gutierrez signed voluntary deportation papers and was placed on a bus bound for Nogales, a bench warrant was issued for Gutierrez's arrest for the charge of forgery still pending against her. Though some of her supporters believe that these charges were dismissed, this is not the case, according to Phoenix Police Department PIO Stacie Derge, and Virginia's allegedly fake I.D. is still being held as evidence. So apparently, in a Kafkaesque move if there ever was one, the County Attorney is pursuing the forgery charge, even though Virginia has been deported. (The bench warrant was issued specifically because she was not present for a preliminary hearing: She had already been thrown out of the country.) If she ever returns to the U.S., presumably she would face arrest on the outstanding warrant and would have to stand trial.
I'm not sure if this is simply a case of the system grinding forward as it normally does, or if there is something crueler involved. The bench warrant was issued 8/28, before this story hit the media, unless the Spanish-language media had already picked it up. It almost seems as if it's an attempt to keep Virginia from reentering the country, an extra "fuck you" from the prosecutor in this instance. However, I know from watching them work that prosecutors don't need any extra incentives to be assholes.
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Adding insult to injury was this story in Thursday's Valley & State section of The Arizona Republic, "Fake ID game is in high gear," about how common it is for ASU students in Tempe to use bogus driver's licenses to get into bars or buy alcohol. The piece cites Tempe PD PIO Brandon Banks as stating that "the penalty for getting caught with a fake ID is arrest and an automatic one-year driver's license suspension."
The story makes it sound like it's no big deal, just a slap on the wrist for some college freshman. But it is in fact the same Class 4 Felony that Virginia was arrested for, and which set in motion the sequence of events for which Virginia was sent south. According to the Arizona Revised Statutes, a Class 4 Felony can net you anywhere from 1.5 to 3 years. I'm not a lawyer, and no doubt someone could get probation, but compare the tone of this article to what happened to Virginia and tell me there isn't a double standard involved? That is, if you're an underage white kid trying to buy beer, you get a slap on the wrist. If you're an undocumented 18-year-old, who's lived in this country most of your life, you get the boot.
I know Virginia signed her own deportation orders, but the discrepancy still stands. If Virginia had been a white girl trying to buy liquor with a fake driver's license, even if she had been arrested, she likely would have been out of jail like there was a turnstile on the door. It's a disgusting situation, made more so because Virginia had no prior arrests, and graduated from HS with honors.