Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eerie silence over Chandra Levy case

The Washington Post has done a lot to focus attention on Ingmar Guandique, lead suspect in the Chandra Levy case, and today it talks about the likelihood that Guandique will soon be charged for the killing. But in all the reporting, wouldn't you think the Post would find time to explore the reasons Guandique was in the country?

It calls him an immigrant in the first sentence, but never reveals that he entered illegally and then was granted a work permit under a nominally temporary but in fact near-permanent program in early 2001. According to a story in Human Events, DHS confirmed his status as follows:
"Our records indicate that Mr. Guandique entered the United States illegally but was eligible for an immigration benefit because of the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of El Salvador. He filed for that benefit and received work authorization while that application was pending. The application has subsequently been denied because Guandique failed to submit fingerprints."

And why did he fail to submit fingerprints? Well, according to the Post, by July 2001, he'd been arrested for attacking women at knifepoint in Rock Creek Park.

So the timing is as follows: Guandique enters the US illegally and starts work as a day laborer around 2000. In March 2001, responding to earthquakes in El Salvador, President Bush grants Temporary Protected Status to all Salvadorans in the country, legally or illegally. Shortly thereafter Guandique files for a work permit under the temporary amnesty program. He also starts drinking and becomes violent. Chandra Levy is killed in May. Two weeks later, Guandique attacks a woman in the park, and he does it again on July 1. Wouldn't you think that an examination of this timeline would be a natural for the Post? It opens another window into Guandique's state of mind, and it's a human interest way of approaching dry policy topics like immigration and the temporary protected status program. (El Salvador's status is still in effect, nearly a decade after the earthquakes, so Guandique would still have his work permit if he hadn't been arrested.) Not to mention the Bush-bashing angle.

But the Post is silent. In fact, as far as I can tell, the entire press corps has been silent on this topic. Well, it's not like the Chandra Levy story has been the subject of heavy coverage.

That must explain it.

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