News & Politics

Mexican Man Charged with Raping Girl on Bus Had 19 Deportations, Removals Since 2003

Tomas Martinez-Maldonado a Mexican national accused of raping a 13-year-old girl on a Greyhound bus that traveled through Kansas (Geary County Detention Center via AP)

A Mexican man who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl on a Greyhound bus had been deported 10 times and removed from the U.S. another nine since 2003, according to a report by the Associated Press. Several U.S. senators are demanding to see immigration records for 38-year-old Tomas Martinez-Maldonado, who is charged with a felony in the alleged attack on Sept. 27 aboard a bus in Geary County, near Kansas City.

According to records obtained by the Associated Press, Martinez-Maldonado had eight “voluntary removals” before his first deportation in 2010. That was followed by another voluntary removal that same year. He was then deported five more times between 2011 and 2013.

Martinez-Maldonado was charged with entering the country without legal permission in 2013. Though he was only charged with a misdemeanor, he was subsequently deported in early 2014 after serving his sentence. A few months later he was again deported and then again in 2015—twice. He was last deported in October 2015 after he had served his second sentence, according to the records obtained by the AP.

ICE told the AP in an emailed statement that in cases where a person has been deported multiple times or has a significant criminal history and was removed, it routinely presents those cases to the U.S. attorney’s office for possible criminal charges.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona refused a request from the AP to comment on why prosecutors twice dismissed felony re-entry after deportation charges against Martinez-Maldonado in 2013 and 2015 in exchange for plea deals.

Three Republican senators, including Kansas’ Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, are demanding to see the immigration records for Martinez-Maldonado. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the judiciary committee, co-signed a Dec. 9 letter with the two Kansas senators to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson saying this is “an extremely disturbing case” and asking how Martinez-Moldonado was able to re-enter and remain in the country.

Now that the irreparable damage has been done to the young rape victim, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has asked Geary County to turn Martinez-Maldonado over to ICE custody before he is released. Beyond that, they’ve refused to comment on what they will do with him.

A status hearing in the rape case is scheduled for Jan. 10. Lisa Hamer, his defense attorney, 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.”

David Trevino, a Topeka immigration attorney who has provided legal advice to Martinez-Maldonado’s family, told the AP that it’s not unusual to see immigrants with multiple entries without legal permission. He said that most of Martinez-Maldonado’s family still lives in Mexico, but he also has family in the United States, and the family is “devastated.”

“[President-elect Donald Trump] can build a wall 100 feet high and 50 feet deep, but it is not going to keep family members separated. So if someone is deported and they have family members here … they will find a way back — whether it is through the air, under a wall, through the coast of the United States,” Trevino said.

Sen. Moran told the AP in an email that the immigration system is “broken.”

“There must be serious legislative efforts to address U.S. immigration policy, and we must have the ability to identify, prosecute and deport illegal aliens who display violent tendencies before they have an opportunity to perpetrate these crimes in the United States,” he said.