November 7, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Western Division. No. 3:17-cr-50079-l -
Philip G. Reinhard, Judge.
Hamilton, Scudder, and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.
Hamilton, Circuit Judge.
Carlos Vasquez-Abarca appeals his sentence for reentering the
United States illegally after a prior deportation following a
felony conviction, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a).
The district court imposed a sentence of 72 months in prison,
about twice the range of 30 to 37 months in prison advised by
the Sentencing Guidelines. The sentence was well within the
statutory limits and was a reasonable exercise of the
judge's discretion under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and
United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005). The
judge here also gave a sufficient explanation for the
decision, see Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 50
(2007), based primarily on Vasquez-Abarca's criminal
history and the fact that a previous sentence of 57 months
for the same crime had not deterred him from committing the
crime again. We affirm the sentence.
Factual and Procedural Background
parents brought him to the United States from Mexico in 1986,
when he was about five years old. He has been deported from
the United States on three prior occasions, in 1997, 2005,
and 2015. His first encounter with law enforcement in the
United States came in 1995-at the age of 14-when he was
arrested for having sex with a 12-year-old. For reasons that
are not clear, Vasquez-Abarca evidently told Illinois
authorities that he was either 16 or 17 years old. Based on
that age difference, he was convicted of a felony sex offense
in June 1996. He was imprisoned in Illinois and then deported
to Mexico for the first time on July 25, 1997.
after that deportation, Vasquez-Abarca reentered the United
States illegally. Less than two months later, he was arrested
in Chicago for disorderly conduct. (That charge was
dismissed, apparently without any immigration consequences.)
In July 2001, he was still living in Illinois and was
convicted of failing to register as a sex offender. Later in
2001, federal immigration agents arrested Vasquez-Abarca. He
was charged in the Northern District of Illinois with
reentering the country illegally in violation of 8 U.S.C.
§ 1326(a). He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2002
to 57 months in prison, the lower limit of the guideline
range. After serving that sentence, he was deported for a
second time on December 2, 2005.
Vasquez-Abarca entered the United States again in June 2006.
In the following years, he committed about a dozen
driving-related offenses in Illinois and Georgia, including
various moving violations and driving without a valid
license. His repeated traffic violations culminated in August
2012 in two felony convictions in Georgia and a one-year term
of imprisonment. On December 19, 2013, shortly after his
release from a Georgia prison, he was sentenced in the
Northern District of Illinois to an additional 24 months in
prison for violating the terms of his supervised release on
the 2002 conviction for illegal reentry. After serving that
supervised release revocation sentence, he was deported for a
third time on May 19, 2015.
committed the crime of conviction here when he illegally
entered the United States again around January 2016. He moved
to Rochelle, Illinois, where he found work remodeling homes.
But he still had an outstanding Illinois warrant from 2007
for giving the police a fake name and driver's license.
He was arrested on that warrant on April 8, 2017. That
October he was convicted of the felony of obstructing
justice. The state court sentenced him to time served, but
Vasquez-Abarca was then taken into federal custody and
indicted again for illegally reentering the United States
after a prior deportation following a felony conviction, in
violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a) and (b)(1).
ultimately pleaded guilty to the charge. At the sentencing
hearing, the government asked for a sentence within the
guideline range of 30 to 37 months. The defense requested a
below-guideline sentence of 24 months, arguing that
Vasquez-Abarca's driving violations stemmed from his lack
of legal residency status. The district court, however,
imposed a sentence of 72 months. The statute authorized a
sentence of up to 20 years. 8 U.S.C. § 1326(b)(2). The
only questions on appeal are whether the district court gave
a sufficient explanation for the 72-month sentence and
whether the sentence was substantively
review the substantive reasonableness of a sentence for abuse
of discretion. Gall, 552 U.S. at 46; United
States v. Carter, 538 F.3d 784, 789 (7th Cir. 2008). The
district court must explain the sentence in terms of the
factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). See 18 U.S.C.
§ 3553(c). The judge "should set forth enough to
satisfy the appellate court that he has considered the
parties' arguments and has a reasoned basis for
exercising his own legal decisionmaking authority."
Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 356 (2007). The
explanation need not be "exhaustive" but must be
"adequate to allow for meaningful appellate
review." Carter, 538 F.3d at 789 (quotation
omitted). The court here gave three reasons for the
above-guideline sentence: Vasquez-Abarca's extensive
criminal history, the need to deter him from further illegal
reentries, and protecting the public from the perils of
United States v. Booker,543 U.S. 220 (2005), the
Supreme Court remedied the Sixth Amendment problems with
mandatory Sentencing Guidelines by making them advisory.
"Mandatory" and "advisory" serve as
shorthand descriptions of different standards of review for
non-guideline sentences ("departures" under the
Guidelines, and often called "variances" after
Booker). Since Booker, the Supreme Court
and lower federal courts have worked to maintain an