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October 16, 2020Washington, DC, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

DHS, ICE announce arrests of 23 at-large aliens in sanctuary jurisdictions in the National Capital Region

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday the conclusion of a week-long targeted enforcement operation that resulted in the apprehension of more than 170 at-large aliens throughout the U.S., where sanctuary policies have largely prohibited the cooperation of law enforcement agencies in the arrest of criminal aliens. Twenty-three arrests occurred in the National Capital Region, with 12 arrests in Maryland and 11 arrests in Virginia.

ICE officers assigned to field offices in Baltimore and Washington D.C. conducted the enforcement actions Oct. 3 through Oct. 9. The enforcement actions focused on aliens subject to removal who were arrested for crimes but were released by state or local law enforcement agencies despite having active immigration detainers in place. More than 90% percent of aliens arrested in the National Capital Region had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges at the time of arrest.

“Last fiscal year, 86 percent of people arrested by ICE had criminal convictions or pending charges. ICE focuses its resources on those who pose the greatest threat to public safety. The men and women of ICE put their lives on the line every day to keep these individuals off the streets,” said Acting DHS Secretary Chad F. Wolf. “The Department will continue to carry out lawful enforcement actions in order to keep our communities safe, regardless of whether or not we have cooperation from state and local officials. Politics will not come before safety when enforcing the law and keeping our citizens safe.”

“ICE continues to protect communities by taking criminal aliens off the streets regardless of any locality’s cooperation policies – which is part of our Congressionally mandated mission,” said ICE Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Tony H. Pham. “Officers and agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are sworn federal law enforcement officers who enforce U.S. immigration laws created by Congress to keep this country safe.”

“Public safety is best served when law enforcement works together. When jurisdictions across the region choose not to honor lawful detainers and warrants, individuals are released into the community and may reoffend,” said Francisco Madrigal, acting Baltimore field office director. “Decisions made in one noncooperative jurisdiction impact communities in other parts of the region as offenders cross state lines. This is a regional public safety issue.”

“ICE’s mission has remained consistent — to enforce immigration laws passed by Congress. That means if we cannot gain custody of an individual through a safe transfer in a jail, we must pursue and arrest them at-large in the community, as we did during this operation,” said Matthew Munroe, acting Washington, D.C. field office director. “Working in cooperation with federal law enforcement is the safest and simplest way to pursue our shared public safety goals.”

During these recent enforcement actions, ICE officers identified, targeted and arrested multiple criminal aliens who were previously released from local and state law enforcement custody despite having lawful immigration detainers lodged with local law enforcement officials.

ICE arrested the following individuals as part of the enforcement actions:

  • Jose Raul Rivera-Aguilar, a 39-year-old male citizen of El Salvador, Oct. 9 in Gaithersburg, Maryland. ICE previously lodged an immigration detainer with the Montgomery County Detention Center after Rivera-Aguilar was arrested for sexual abuse of a minor family member or member of household, sex offenses in the second and third degree, and rape in the second degree. The jail did not honor the detainer and released Rivera-Aguilar into the community Sept. 25. He will remain in ICE custody pending removal to El Salvador.
  • Victor Resendiz Romero, a 28-year-old citizen of Mexico, Oct. 8 in Charlottesville, Virginia. ICE had previously lodged three immigration detainers with the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail on Romero after his arrests for felony forgery, identity theft and driving without a license, but the jail declined to honor the detainers and released him into the community. ICE previously removed Romero to Mexico in March 2013, and he illegally reentered the United States after his removal. He is in ICE custody pending removal to Mexico.
  • Edras Onel Vasquez Perez, a 25-year-old citizen of Honduras, Oct. 7 in Woodbridge, Virginia. ICE previously lodged an immigration detainer with the Prince William – Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center (PWMRADC) for Vasquez after his recent arrest for assault on a family member. In addition, ICE previously removed Vasquez to Honduras in 2017 and he returned illegally. On May 8, 2019, a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, Virginia, issued a criminal arrest warrant for Vasquez for illegal reentry, a felony punishable by up to twenty years’ incarceration, following his release from the Newport News City Jail after he was arrested for malicious wounding despite an ICE detainer. However, last month the PWMRADC did not honor either the immigration detainer or the criminal warrant and released Vasquez into the community Sept. 29. ICE transferred him to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for prosecution for illegal reentry.

Last week, DHS and ICE announced the arrest of 128 at-large aliens as part of immigration enforcement actions conducted in sanctuary jurisdictions throughout California from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2.

In FY 2019, ICE 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. ICE continues to target criminal aliens and other public safety and national security threats every day.

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.

Sanctuary policies restrict most forms of cooperation with federal immigration authorities and vastly impede ICE’s ability to work with partner agencies, according to ICE officials, requiring ICE to arrest at-large criminal aliens in the communities, instead of a secure, jail environment.

ICE maintains that cooperation with local law enforcement is essential to protecting public safety, and the agency aims to work cooperatively with local jurisdictions to ensure that criminal aliens are not released into U.S. communities to commit additional crimes.

Updated: 10/16/2020