Sometimes, it's the courts that are stupid ...
U.S. v. Gunera, 05-20544 (5th Cir., Feb. 13, 2007)
Defendant Arthur Gunera, an alien and felon who had already been deported twice, returned to the U.S. illegally in 1992. He came to authorities’ attention in August 1999, when he submitted an application for Temporary Protected Status, which would allow him to remain here legally. Although Gunera did not disclose his prior deportations and felony conviction, this information was available on a central database, so his application was denied. Gunera was also asked to submit a set of fingerprints, which he never did.
Nothing else happened until November 2004, when Gunera was arrested for illegal reentry. He moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the statute of limitations expires five years after an alien is “found” in the United States. Here, Gunera was “found” when he voluntarily submitted his TPS application. But the district court denied the motion, concluding that Gunera’s failure to disclose his past and provide fingerprints meant that he was not “found” within the meaning of the law. Gunera was convicted after a bench trial.
On appeal, the Fifth Circuit reverses. The Court explains that the information showing that Gunera had illegally reentered the country was readily available to the government once Gunera filed his TPS application, notwithstanding his lack of candor. Because the statute of limitations had run by November 2004, the indictment must be dismissed. So Gunera is a free man, though he’ll likely be deported immediately.