BALTIMORE – A man arrested for sexual abuse of a minor was released from police custody in Montgomery County, Maryland, June 23, despite a request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers to hold him so he could be arrested also for violating U.S. immigration laws.
ERO officers had lodged a detainer June 19 with Montgomery County Detention Center on Rene Atilio Ramos-Hernandez, 56, an unlawfully present citizen of El Salvador and a convicted criminal alien, following his recent arrest for sexual abuse of a minor. The detainer was not honored, and Ramos-Hernandez was released back into the community June 23. Officers at Montgomery County Detention Center called to notify the ERO Baltimore field office as he was being released but refused to hold Ramos-Hernandez for the time required for ERO officers to travel to the facility.
Under federal law, ICE has the authority to lodge immigration detainers with law enforcement partners who have custody of individuals arrested on criminal charges and who ICE has probable cause to believe are removable aliens. The detainer form asks the other law enforcement agency to notify ICE in advance of release and to maintain custody of the alien for a brief period of time so that ICE can take custody of that person in a safe and secure setting upon release from that agency’s custody. Yet, across the United States, several jurisdictions refuse to honor detainers and instead choose to willingly release criminal offenders back into their local communities where they are free to offend.
Congress has established no process, requirement, or expectation directing ICE to seek a judicial warrant from already overburdened federal courts before taking custody of an alien on civil immigration violations. This idea is simply a figment created by those who wish to undermine immigration enforcement and excuse the ill-conceived practices of sanctuary jurisdictions that put politics before public safety.
Sanctuary Policies Put Public Safety at Risk
When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release a criminal alien onto the streets, it negatively impacts public safety. Any local jurisdiction thinking that refusing to cooperate with ICE will result in a decrease in local immigration enforcement is mistaken. Local jurisdictions that choose to not cooperate with ICE are likely to see an increase in ICE enforcement activity, as the agency has no choice but to conduct more at-large arrest operations. A consequence of ICE being forced to make more arrests on the streets, the agency is likely to encounter other unlawfully present foreign nationals who would not have been encountered had we been allowed to take custody of a criminal target within the confines of a local jail. Additionally, once these criminals are out on the street, confirming their whereabouts is often time consuming and resource intensive. Many of our arrest targets are seasoned criminals who are savvy about eluding law enforcement.