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Detainee sentenced to more than 2 years in prison for assaulting ICE officer

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — An immigration detainee was sentenced to two years and four months in federal prison on Monday for assaulting and obstructing a federal officer. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

Kemar Ramon James, 23, a Jamaican citizen and former U.S. permanent resident, appeared before U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle on Dec. 12. Judge Tagle sentenced James to 28 months in prison for one count of assaulting and obstructing a federal officer. In January, James pleaded guilty to the same charge but later withdrew his guilty plea before sentencing.

"Today's sentencing sends a strong message that there are consequences for egregious behavior," said Achim. "All assaults or threats against our employees will be aggressively investigated, and criminal charges initiated whenever possible, such as in this case. Protecting our ICE employees is paramount."

During sentencing, Judge Tagle noted James' behavior while in immigration and federal custody, including other assaults and disruptive incidents. Following his prison term, James will be on supervised release for three years with special a condition that he not illegally re-enter the United States.

According to court documents, in July 2010, James was in administrative custody at the Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC) pending removal proceedings before an immigration court. On July 22, 2010, detention center guards and agents conducted a routine dorm search, but another detainee refused to follow agents' directions. When detention officers and an ICE agent attempted to escort that detainee out of the area, James approached the agent and stated that the other detainee was not going anywhere. One of the detention officers shifted his attention to James and gestured for James to move back from the ICE agent and the other detainee. When the detention officer placed his hand out, James slapped the officer's hand away. At that point, the ICE agent attempted to make James step away from the other officers and the other detainee. But James swung and punched the agent in the face, cutting the agent's face. As other agents came to the injured agent's assistance to restrain James, James resisted. During James' transport away from the area, he bragged to a supervisory ICE agent that he had knocked down an ICE agent and later threatened to attack another agent. The agent's injury required two stitches.

James has been ordered removed by an immigration judge and will likely be removed to Jamaica after he completes his prison sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. Leonard, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.