Thursday, December 12, 2013

Undocumented Arizona State Police Detective Resigns

Carmen Figueroa

Former detective Figueroa worked for the Arizona State Police for at least ten years.

By H. Nelson Goodson
December 12, 2013

Phoenix, Arizona - On Monday, Carmen Figueroa, 42, resigned from the Arizona Department of Public Safety (state police) after it was learned in mid August that she was undocumented. Figueroa was working as a detective for the state police.
She was based in Tucson as an officer, but in 2010, she was promoted to detective in the criminal investigation division with the state police.
On September 4, Figueroa was suspended with pay pending the outcome of her citizenship status. Her legal status was discovered after her brother who is in the military solicited a U.S. Passport from the State Department and it was learned that he was not a citizen. The State Department also learned about Figueroa's job and found she was undocumented as well.
The State Department notified the Arizona State Police of her non-citizenship status and an investigation was initiated. A state police officer must to be a U.S. Citizen to get hired in Arizona. 
Figueroa knew that she would eventually get fired, but last Monday, she resigned from the state police.
Figueroa was born in Sinaloa, Mexico and she was brought into the U.S. at an early age. She contends that her mother led her to believe she was a U.S. Citizen. 
When she applied to become a state police officer, Figueroa submitted a birth certificate from Texas, a driver's license and a high school diploma from California, according to Bart Graves, Spokesman from the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS).
The DPS is now investigating, if Figueroa falsify documents and information when she joined the department and whether she will be prosecuted. Most likely, Figueroa will eventually be deported as a plea deal with the feds and to avoid a trial. 
Figueroa before joining the DPS, she worked as a secretary for the federal Bureau of Prisons and for the Pima County court system as a secretary and officer.
Other non-citizens busted in law enforcement, in 2007, Oscar Ayala-Cornejo, now 30, was deported to Mexico after it was learned through a tip that he was an undocumented Immigrant working as Milwaukee police officer under his dead cousin's name, Jose Morales. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested Ayala-Cornejo at the Milwaukee Second Police District Station. 
He pleaded guilty to a felony charge for falsely claiming to be a U.S. Citizen. He was deported after completing his three month sentence.
His brother, Alexander Ayala, a U.S. Citizen and a Milwaukee police officer was terminated, but his dismissal was overturned by the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission. He received a temporary suspension without pay after it was learned that he knew that Ayala-Cornejo began using his dead cousin's birth certificate in 1999 when he was in high school. Ayala also knew that it was illegal for a non-citizen to become a police officer in Milwaukee and Ayala did not notified the department of his brother's illegal status and false identity.
Ayala-Cornejo was well known and volunteered for the Mexican Fiesta annual event, which his aunt is currently the executive director and Ayala is the current president of the Latino Peace Officers Association,  which is a volunteer security team for the three day Mexican Fiesta.
In 2011, Rafael Mora-Lopez, now 49, a former Anchorage Police Department officer was found to be undocumented and was removed as a law enforcement officer. He began working as an officer since 2005 and was using the name of Rafael Espinoza. His non-citizen status was learned after he attempted to renew his U.S. Passport.
Lopez pleaded guilty to a felony charge of false identity and was sentenced to three months in a federal prison and fined.

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