WASHINGTON – On Feb. 3, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested Marissa Martinez, 29, also known as Wilson Yovani Martinez or Maritza Martinez, an unlawfully present Guatemalan national after she was released by Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail despite a lawful immigration detainer. Martinez had pending charges for sexual assault of a child and assault when she was released from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail and has since been re-arrested charged with felony indecent liberties with a child. After the second arrest, she was again released from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail a second time, despite an active detainer. Martinez was released back into the community instead of being turned over to ICE.
On May 9, 2018, Martinez entered the U.S. and was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Ysidro, Ca. She was transferred to ICE custody and released on an ankle monitor on July 27, 2018. She complied with the monitoring terms and was removed from the monitoring program on Mar. 3, 2019, while pending her immigration proceedings.
On Nov. 30, 2019, the Charlottesville, Va., Police Department arrested Martinez for misdemeanor sexual assault of a child and assault, and ICE lodged a detainer with the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on the same day. However, despite the detainer, the facility released Martinez on bond, providing only one-hour notice to ICE officers before she was released back into the community.
On Jan.3, the Albemarle County Police Department arrested the Martinez for felony indecent liberties with a child. ICE lodged a second detainer the same day. On Jan. 21, again, the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail released Martinez and again did not provide enough time for ICE officers to assume custody. As a result, Martinez was released back into the community for the second time.
On Feb. 3, ICE officers arrested Martinez in Charlottesville, Va. She is currently detained at the Caroline Detention Facility and will remain in ICE custody pending the result of her immigration proceedings.
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.