Sunday, February 6, 2022

FAKE HATE, REAL CRIMINALS: Man Who Drew Union Station Swastikas is Twice-Deported Criminal, But Where Is His Mugshot?

Source: Washington Examiner

Published: February 02, 2022

By: Anna Giaritelli

A man arrested last week for vandalizing Washington's Union Station with swastika symbols is a Mexican citizen with a 15-year criminal history who has been deported twice but still does not meet Biden administration standards for arrest or removal.

Geraldo Pando, 34, was arrested on Jan. 28 and charged with the display of certain emblems and defacing private/public property for drawing the Nazi symbol on the exterior walls of the train station, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The incident happened one day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day and is being investigated as a possible hate crime.


Arrest records obtained exclusively by the Washington Examiner reveal that Pando had an extensive, 35-page criminal history in Colorado before he arrived in the District of Columbia recently. Despite his record, Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not attempt to take him into federal custody after his Union Station arrest so that he could face deportation proceedings in court, instead allowing him to remain in the United States.

Pando had also been detained and arrested a week prior to the Union Station incident for vandalizing the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters, according to a senior Senate aide familiar with Pando’s run-ins with federal, state, and local law enforcement. Capitol Police released him because ICE did not ask that he be detained until he could be transferred into federal custody. Capitol Police and ICE did not respond to requests for comment.

“The criminal who defaced Union Station with antisemitic symbols, Geraldo Pando, should not have been able to commit this act of hatred. He is a convicted felon and an unlawful migrant with a criminal history of deportations and arrests, including for assault on a first responder," Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.

"It is inexcusable that ICE did not process him and he was released back into the community to commit such a heinous crime," said Portman, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "This administration’s poor policies and reluctance to remove criminals from our streets continue to result in additional harm to our country.”

Blue tape and plastic covers swastikas drawn by vandals on the front of Union Station near the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. The swastika was used by the Nazis and today’s neo-Nazis as a symbol of white supremecey and hatred against racial and ethnic minorities. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) - J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Pando’s known criminal history began 15 years ago. His first arrest was in Aurora, Colorado, in February 2006 on charges of felony drug possession, driving without a license and proof of insurance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana. He pleaded guilty to the marijuana charge, and the felony and other charges were dismissed. He was to serve 18 months' probation but was rearrested in February 2007, negating the probation.

In April 2016, Pando was arrested by the Aurora Police Department on two felony charges, trespassing with intent to commit a crime and possession of burglary tools, and three misdemeanor theft and mischief charges. He pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge, and the four felony and misdemeanor charges were dismissed. He was jailed for 30 days.

Pando was arrested in March 2018 for trespassing and released. Police obtained a warrant for his arrest when he failed to appear in court. He was arrested on a felony charge a month later by the Denver Police Department for possession of a controlled substance. He was convicted and sentenced to 547 days in jail. He was also placed on two years' probation for the previous trespassing and burglary charges.

After being released from jail, Pando was arrested by the Aurora Police Department in October 2020 for assaulting a first responder, reporting false information, and harassment and obscene language. The charges were dismissed in August 2021.

Despite his extensive criminal history and lack of legal status to reside in the U.S., ICE did not pursue taking Pando into custody following his arrests in Washington last month, an indication of how Biden administration policies have forbidden the law enforcement agency from carrying out laws passed by Congress that give ICE authority to arrest any illegal immigrant, including those without criminal histories.

These new guidelines were imposed in early 2021 and limited arrests to three categories: illegal immigrants viewed as a national security threat, those who illegally entered the U.S. after Nov. 1, 2021, and illegal immigrants who were convicted of select felonies or affiliated with a gang. Anyone outside these categories, including someone who had been newly arrested by a local police department and had previously been convicted of multiple felonies, would not be fit for arrest unless approved by a supervisor.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in November added another contingency that each arrest be decided on a case-by-case basis to avoid deciding based on a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political associations, or exercise of First Amendment rights.

“In exercising this discretion, we are guided by the knowledge that there are individuals in our country who have been here for generations and contributed to our country’s well-being, including those who have been on the frontline in the battle against COVID, lead congregations of faith, and teach our children,” Mayorkas said in a statement at the time.

Because more than 11 million people are residing in the U.S. illegally, ICE’s 6,000 deportation officers have for years had to prioritize whom they will attempt to arrest, typically focusing on people with criminal backgrounds, but sometimes, officers encounter illegal immigrants without convictions or charges filed and arrest them. Under former President Donald Trump, ICE officers were told to focus efforts on any illegal immigrant, including those arrested after driving under the influence or charged with other, less violent crimes.

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