OKLAHOMA CITY – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Antonio Ulises Perez, a 38-year-old illegal alien from El Salvador accused of rape, Wednesday, after the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) failed to honor an ICE detainer and released him from custody.
Almost immediately following his release from the Oklahoma County Jail on Oct. 9, Ulises Perez went to the home of the woman he is alleged to have raped. The victim contacted the police and Ulises Perez fled the scene.
Under federal law, ICE has the authority to lodge immigration detainers with law enforcement agencies who have custody of individuals arrested on criminal charges and who ICE has probable cause to believe are removable aliens. The detainer form advises law enforcement agencies to notify ICE in advance of release and to maintain custody of the alien for up to 48 hours so that ICE can take custody of that person in a safe and secure setting.
Under this authority, ICE lodged an immigration detainer with the OCSO on Oct. 8 requesting that they transfer custody of Ulises Perez to ICE in the event that he was scheduled to be released from OCSO custody. However, OCSO released Ulises Perez around 3 a.m. on Oct. 9, about an hour after notifying ICE, that he was scheduled to be released preventing deportation officers any reasonable opportunity to take custody.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. Over the past few months ago, Oklahoma County has routinely failed to honor ICE detainers by releasing criminal aliens back into the local community before ICE has the opportunity to take custody.
On Sept. 30, Ulises Perez was arrested by the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) on suspicion of rape. On Oct. 8, ICE interviewed Perez in person, and lodged an immigration detainer with the OCSO, advising them to transfer custody of Ulises Perez to ICE in the event that he was scheduled to be released from local custody. Pending further investigation, OCPD was unable to continue to detain this individual and processed him for release. On Oct. 9 at approximately 3 a.m., the active detainer was not honored, and the OCSO released Ulises Perez from the Oklahoma County Jail. On Oct. 9, ICE deportation officers arrested Ulises Perez in Oklahoma City. He remains in ICE custody pending disposition of his immigration proceedings.
ICE is focused on removing public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation's immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges. Nationally, approximately 90 percent of all people arrested by ICE during fiscal year 2019 either had a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, had illegally re-entered the United States after being previously removed (a federal felony), or were an immigration fugitive subject to a final order of removal.
Approximately 70 percent of the arrests ICE makes happen after ICE is notified about an alien being released from local jails or state prisons. In fiscal year 2019, ICE has lodged more than 160,000 detainers with local law enforcement agencies.
ICE lodges detainers on individuals who have been arrested on criminal charges and who ICE has probable cause to believe are removable aliens. The detainer 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 custody. When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission.
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.
When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release a criminal alien onto the streets this negatively impacts public safety and ICE's efficiency in the apprehension of criminal aliens. Federal immigration laws authorize DHS to issue detainers and provide ICE broad authority to detain removable aliens.