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Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

"The First Amendment gives everyone -- including nuts -- free speech,
but free speech has a purpose: that the people may judge for themselves
and bury the nuts with indignation. We fail our founding fathers if we
let blowhards rage on talk radio, in little magazines and in nasty
books without delivering counterattacks.

   -- Barron's, Aug. 9, 2004 (Thanks to alert WORDster John Mollwitz)

Hyrum resident gets 60 days in jail now, probable deportation to El Salvador later

By Denise Albiston and Hard News Cafe staff

March 31, 2004 | Deportation was not considered a "special circumstance" in sentencing a non-U.S. citizen convicted of eight third-degree felony counts of forgery, said First District Court Judge Gordon J. Low Monday afternoon.

Joel Enrique Miranda, 19, of Hyrum, was sentenced to 60 days in the Cache County Jail before being deported by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to El Salvador.

"If Joel goes back to jail, he'll be sent back to El Salvador, a country he left when he was 9 years old," said defense attorney Brian Lofgren.

Under federal law, non-U.S. citizens convicted on felony charges are at risk for deportation by the INS. Lofgren told Judge Low that Miranda and his family have been away from his home country for over 10 years. He said Miranda doesn't have any employment contacts or educational opportunities available.

"If we don't send him to jail, than we would be treating him differently than a U.S. citizen. He is a guest in this country and has not performed well," said prosecuting attorney James Swink.

Lofgren said it is the discretion of the court to determine what type of sentencing is appropriate for a crime. He said probation is an appropriate sentence for this defendant since Miranda has already been to jail and doesn't need to return. He said Miranda is not asking for leniency from the court, but is asking the court to consider the impact jail will have on his immigration status.

"You're asking me to change my procedures to manipulate their system," Low said.

Lofgren said the immigration consequences for Miranda far outweigh the state's consequences for his crimes. He said Miranda qualifies as a person with special circumstances which need to be considered during his sentencing process.

"If you send him to jail, you'll ruin his life," Lofgren said.

Miranda's statement to court said he understood that what he did was wrong and had learned his lesson.

"I'm sorry for what I did. This has changed my life dramatically and I don't want to go back to a country I don't even know," Miranda said.

Low said it wasn't his duty, right or option to manipulate the judicial system in Cache County in order to avoid the consequences from the INS. He added Miranda is a guest in this country and his behavior should have been far better then it has been.

A U.S. citizen would be expected to do jail time for the same type of crimes Miranda is convicted of, Low said. He said Miranda's special circumstances are really an INS issue not a court issue and there is no way he could justify special treatment.

--HNC staff writers Doan Nguyen, Julie Oliver and Jessica Rands also contributed to this story.



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