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September 24, 2020Los Angeles, CA, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

Declined detainer update for Los Angeles County

Criminal aliens allowed back into local communities despite recidivism rates

LOS ANGELES – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to lodge immigration detainers on criminal aliens in the custody of non-cooperative local law enforcement. State and local policies prevent these agencies from working with ICE, resulting in the release of hundreds of criminal aliens back into the local community after their arrests for criminal activity like homicide, molestation of a child, battery, robbery and terrorist threats.

“Sanctuary policies create an irresponsible safe harbor for criminal aliens who seek to prey on the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Senior Official Performing the Duties of the ICE Director Tony H. Pham. “Immigration enforcement is about applying the law – our actions, efforts and resources remain diligently focused on targeting those who not only threaten and undermine our national security, but who demonstrate a repeated and willful disregard for public safety within the United States.”

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Los Angeles continues to emphasize the critical role immigration detainers play in apprehending criminal aliens arrested by local authorities on charges, for who the agency also maintains probable cause to believe are removable from the U.S.

“Sanctuary laws are largely designed to tie the hands of law enforcement officials and inhibit them from working with federal partners – this only serves to protect criminal aliens at a tremendous and dangerous cost to victims,” said ICE’s ERO Los Angeles Field Office Director Dave Marin.

The non-cooperative policies require ICE to divert limited resources previously embedded with local law enforcement agencies and send officers out into communities to target and apprehend at-large aliens convicted of crimes or with pending criminal charges, according to Marin.

“The sad truth is that these individuals are often released and returned into immigrant communities to potentially victimize other immigrants, and the crimes we are talking about span things like homicide, kidnapping, rape, robbery, battery, fraud, theft, drug offenses, crimes against children, weapons charges – these are not law-abiding people who anyone should want in their community,” he said. “We will continue to seek effective collaboration and partnerships with local law enforcement to ensure the overarching safety of our communities, and we remain committed and focused to targeting egregious, recidivist, violent criminals.”

Among the recent immigration detainers not honored in Los Angeles County:

  • A 36-year-old citizen and national of Pakistan convicted of grand theft, possession of a controlled substance, evading a peace officer, and dangerous weapons; processed and released back into the community by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) on Sept. 9
  • A 21-year-old citizen and national of Honduras with multiple convictions and charges for battery and terrorist threats, and who has a removal order by a federal immigration judge, processed and released by the LASD on Sept. 1
  • A 36-year-old citizen and national of El Salvador convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and who has a removal order by a federal immigration judge; processed and released by the LASD on Sept. 1
  • A 34-year-old citizen and national of Mexico with more than a dozen convictions and charges for grand theft, fraud, and drug possession, processed and released by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) on Aug. 31
  • A 40-year-old citizen and national of El Salvador convicted of homicide, robbery, and terrorist threats, processed and released by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on Aug. 26
  • A 31-year-old citizen and national of El Salvador with more than a dozen convictions and charges for drugs, fraud, theft, and weapons, processed and released by the LAPD on Aug. 24
  • Another 34-year-old citizen and national of Mexico charged with lewd and lascivious acts and molestation of a minor, processed and released by the LASD on Aug. 23
  • A 55-year-old citizen and national of Honduras and prior removal charged with lewd and lascivious acts/sex with a minor; processed and released by the LASD sometime in August

Immigration detainers serve as a legally authorized request, upon which a law enforcement agency may rely, to continue to maintain custody of an alien for up to 48 hours so that ICE may assume custody for removal purposes. Pursuant to ICE policy, all ICE detainers are submitted with an accompanying administrative arrest warrant or warrant of removal depending upon the circumstances of the individual case.

ICE officers are sworn federal law enforcement officers who operate within the confines of the law. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides ICE officers the authority to arrest aliens without a judicial warrant. A judge cannot issue a warrant for a civil immigration violation. Congress, by statute, vested this authorization solely to supervisory immigration officers.

“In fiscal year 2019, there were more than 140,000 arrests made by ERO across the country; more than 14,000 of those arrests were here in California,” Marin stated. “Prior to current sanctuary laws, we had officers working in local jails, identifying criminal aliens being booked and taking immediate custody of them once local law enforcement had completed their case – all within the safe and secure confines of those local, county and state facilities.

“When California officials turned the state into a sanctuary for illegal aliens, and we were no longer permitted to maintain our presence in these facilities, it immediately resulted in criminal aliens being released by law enforcement back onto the streets and required more of our officers in our communities to apprehend them.”

ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All those in violation of immigration law may be subject to arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States. ICE takes many factors into account when targeting and arresting individuals, including their criminal and immigration history.

Victims of crime committed by individuals with a nexus to immigration are encouraged to contact ICE’s VOICE office if they need assistance. The VOICE office affords victims and their loved ones a single point of contact to obtain information regarding criminal aliens in ICE custody, including the ability to get automated custody status information, releasable case history about the perpetrator, or having an ICE representative explain the immigration enforcement and removal process. The toll-free VOICE Hotline number is 1-855-48-VOICE.

In FY 2019, ICE ERO arrested individuals with more than 1,900 convictions and charges for homicide, 1,800 for kidnapping, 12,000 sex offenses, 5,000 sexual assaults, 45,000 assaults, 67,000 crimes involving drugs, 10,000 weapons offenses, and 74,000 DUIs.