Galdino Sierra, Illegal Refugee and Sex Offender, Gets 37 Months for Returning to USA
Galdino Sierra, a California sex offender whose family was gunned down in Mexico by rival factions of his Indian tribe, has been sentenced to 37 months in prison for returning illegally to the United States.
Petaluma PD Galindo Sierra
Tucson lawyer Roger Sigal says that Sierra, 26, a Chatino from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, may still be eligible for refugee status and allowed to stay in the country after he serves his sentence.
Based on Sierra's "tragic life circumstances," Sierra and Sigal had asked U.S. District Court Judge David C. Bury to give Sierra only 14 months in prison.
Bury didn't do that. But Sierra's previous conviction could have meant a sentence of 41 months or more for the offense of returning to the United States after deportation.
Sierra was sentenced in 2011 to two years and eight months for sexual battery and sex with a minor. He served one year before being deported in January of 2012. A few months later, he got caught with two other guys trying to bluff their way through the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 19 north of Nogales, Arizona. He's been behind bars ever since.
He and his siblings, who live in California, plus his lawyer, all claim that Sierra keeps returning to the United States because he's in perpetual danger in Mexico. Records show his fear is probably warranted.
Chatinos, some Internet searching reveals, are an indigenous people of Mexico who have struggled with factional fighting in recent decades. A court memorandum filed by Sigal before the August 20 sentencing hearing backgrounds the matter with a history lesson on the struggles between Chatino traditionalist leaders, like Sierra's late father, Cirulo Sierra Salinas, and the "modernos" of the tribe.
A clash over water rights in the rural town of Santa Lucia led to the 1996 murder of Sierra's brother, Pablo, when Sierra was 9. A year later, ignoring threats and traveling to Santa Lucia to visit his son's grave, Cirulo was "gunned down... by the modernos." Sigal attached documents to his pleading from local Mexican police officials who back up the details of Sierra's family history.
Image: youtube.com/watch?v=1fiQs1FOWpU A Chatino woman prepares food in a rural Oaxacan village in this YouTube screenshot.
Yolanda, Sierra's mom, fled out of town with her family, knowing her sons were viewed as potential successors to Cirulo, a tribal leader. She "sent" her two oldest sons to the United States so they could better support the family. Two years later, she and her oldest daughter, Beatriz, moved to Petaluma, California, where the eldest sons had settled. Another son moved north, leaving Galdino, at 14, in Cerro de Aires to watch over his younger brothers, Jose Luis, 4, and Romero, 7.
Yolanda finally decided in 2003 to try to take the rest of her boys out of Mexico. While in Cerro de Aires, she was attacked by the modernos in her home, beaten, and shot in the chest, according to Galdino and Mexican documents.
"I went crazy because I didn't know what to do or what to tell them," Galdino wrote in a affidavit to the court. "I couldn't do anything for her. She died in my arms."
A week later, the teenage Galdino snuck his two younger brothers over the internationa border and reunited them with family members in Petaluma.