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September 8, 2016Philadelphia, PA, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ICE arrests convicted Guatemalan national released from local custody after detainer request ignored

PHILADELPHIA — Officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)  arrested a Guatemalan  national after he was released from local custody when a detainer lodged with Philadelphia authorities was not honored. The man has a previous conviction for two counts of indecent exposure involving minors.

Milton Berrera-Lopez, 29, a Guatemalan national, was released from local custody Aug. 30, two weeks after being convicted of two counts of indecent exposure and providing false identification to a law enforcement officer, for which he was sentenced to 23 months’ time served, two years’ probation and ordered to have no contact with minors.  

ICE filed the detainer June 30 with the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, where he was detained while the indecent exposure charge was pending. On Aug. 26,  Berrera-Lopez was extradited from the Montgomery County Correctional Facility to Philadelphia’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Officials from Montgomery County confirmed to ICE the detainer was transferred with Berrera-Lopez upon extradition, however, he was released from Philadelphia custody after authorities declined to honor the detainer.

ICE officers arrested Berrera-Lopez Aug. 30 at the Montgomery County Adult Probation Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where he had appeared for mandatory reporting requirements. He will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

“When convicted criminal aliens who pose a threat to children are released into communities instead of being safely transferred to ICE custody in a secure environment, our communities are exposed to an unnecessary risk,” said Thomas Decker, ERO Philadelphia field office director. “This level of risk can be mitigated in many instances. ICE shares the city’s ultimate objective to protect public safety and national security while simultaneously preserving the critical community-police bond. As such, the agency welcomes significant modifications to the current policy which is creating a potentially unsafe environment for the city’s residents."

ICE is committed to focusing on smart, effective immigration enforcement. With the implementation of the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) more than a year ago, many law enforcement agencies that had previous declined to cooperate with ICE, including some large jurisdictions, are now once again working with the agency. Through PEP, DHS continues to make significant strides in building partnerships with local law enforcement and community leaders to ensure a common-sense approach that focuses enforcement resources on convicted criminals and individuals who threaten public safety or national security.

In fiscal 2015, ICE removed or returned 235,413 individuals. Of this total, 165,935 were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States. The remaining 69,478 were apprehended in the interior of the United States, and the vast majority were convicted criminals who fell within ICE's civil immigration enforcement priorities.

98 percent of ICE's fiscal 2015 removals and returns fell into one or more of ICE's civil immigration enforcement priorities, with 86 percent falling in Priority 1 and 8 percent in Priority 2. In addition, ICE's interior enforcement activities led to an increase in the percentage of interior removals that were convicted criminals, growing from 82 percent in fiscal 2013 to 91 percent in 2015.

Updated: 09/12/2016