Jose Medrano-Hernandez enjoys the genuine admiration of his girlfriend, his children, his neighbors and many of his past employers throughout Orange County, including in Newport Beach, Dana Point and Laguna Beach.
They all insist Medrano-Hernandez worked hard all day at construction or handyman jobs to feed a Santa Ana house with nine occupants and, though often exhausted, was always kind and considerate.
But to law enforcement agents in the U.S. Government, Medrano-Hernandez is a relentless "illegal alien."
He's been deported back to his native Mexico numerous times: May 1997, April 2000, May 2006 and August 2006, according to Department of Homeland Security records.
Yet, there's more to the Medrano-Hernandez story than immigration woes.
He's also a convicted cocaine and weapons dealer with a rap sheet that also includes assault with a deadly weapon, false identification to a police officer, multiple thefts and possession of narcotics for personal use.
Last November, Medrano-Hernandez allegedly committed a parole violation and ended up inside the Orange County Jail, where a sheriff's deputy with federal immigration powers asked him if he had a legal right to be in this country.
After serving 90 days for the parole violation, the defendant--who promises his days of alcohol abuse, drug addiction and crime are long over--was transferred to federal custody for violating U.S. immigration laws again.
This month inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter accepted a Department of Justice recommendation to send Medrano-Hernandez to prison for 46 months, the "low-end" of sentencing guidelines for the circumstances.
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The 42-year-old Mexican remains locked this morning inside the Santa Ana Jail and will be bused to a federal penitentiary in coming days.
After he's served that sentence, he'll be deported for a fifth time and, because Orange County is where his girlfriend/fiancee and four boys live, probably will illegally cross the international border again.