WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Mexican man accused of raping a 13-year-old girl on a Greyhound bus that traveled through Kansas had been deported 10 times and voluntarily removed from the U.S. another nine times since 2003, records obtained by The Associated Press show.
Three U.S. Republican senators — including Kansas’ Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts — demanded this month that the Department of Homeland Security provide immigration records for 38-year-old Tomas Martinez-Maldonado, who is charged with a felony in the alleged Sept. 27 attack aboard a bus in Geary County. He is being held in the Geary County jail in Junction City, which is about 120 miles west of Kansas City.
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, from Iowa and chairman of the judiciary committee, co-signed a Dec. 9 letter with Moran and Roberts to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, calling it “an extremely disturbing case” and questioning how Martinez-Maldonado was able to re-enter and remain in the country.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it has placed a detainer — a request to turn Martinez-Maldonado over to ICE custody before he is released — with Geary County. ICE declined to discuss his specific case beyond its October statement regarding the 10 deportations.
Court filings show Martinez-Maldonado has two misdemeanor convictions for entering without legal permission in cases prosecuted in 2013 and 2015 in U.S. District Court of Arizona, where he was sentenced to serve 60 days and 165 days respectively.
A status hearing in the rape case is scheduled for Jan. 10. Defense attorney Lisa Hamer declined to comment on the charge, but said, “criminal law and immigration definitely intersect and nowadays it should be the responsibility of every criminal defense attorney to know the possible ramifications in the immigration courts.”
Nationwide, 52 percent of all federal prosecutions in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 were for entry or re-entry without legal permission and similar immigration violations, according to Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
It’s not unusual to see immigrants with multiple entries without legal permission, said David Trevino, a Topeka immigration attorney also representing Martinez-Maldonado. Most of Martinez-Maldonado’s family lives in Mexico, but he also has family in the United States, and the family is “devastated,” Trevino said.