ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested unlawfully present Salvadoran national Marvin Ramirez Torres Wednesday afternoon during a targeted enforcement action in downtown Asheville, one day after the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office refused to honor an ICE detainer, and instead released Mr. Ramirez Torres from local criminal custody following his conviction for indecent liberties against a child.
By releasing an illegal alien with a serious sex offense against a child, Buncombe County chose to release a serious public safety threat into the Asheville community where he was free to potentially harm others until his capture by ICE.
“It is my sincere desire to work with local partners to whatever extent they are willing to work with this agency in what should be our shared goal to ensure community safety,” said ICE Atlanta Interim Field Office Director John Tsoukaris. “Elected law enforcement officials who chose to ignore the ICE detainer, and the ICE warrant of arrest that accompanied the detainer, are placing politics above public safety and failing their most basic duty to protect their communities. Uncooperative jurisdictions such as Buncombe County should be on notice that as long as criminal offenders are being released, they should get used to seeing a lot more ICE at-large enforcement activity in their communities.”
Mr. Ramirez Torres was initially arrested in April 2017 in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, on an outstanding warrant for felony indecent liberties with a child. ICE lodged an immigration detainer against him with Buncombe County in May 2017. Along with the detainer form, ICE provided Buncombe County with an administrative arrest warrant.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act as passed by Congress, ICE detainers, removal orders issued by federal immigration judges, and ICE immigration enforcement in general, is conducted under civil law The “judicial warrant” demanded by the sheriff only applies to criminal cases and does not exist for civil law matters.
However, for every detainer ICE issues the agency also provides an accompanying administrative warrant, or a warrant of removal along with the detainer, which is the warrant that does exist for matters governed under civil law. The Buncombe County sheriff’s claim that ICE did not provide a warrant is false.
Mr. Ramirez Torres was convicted of felony indecent liberties with a child in North Carolina Superior Court for Buncombe County on October 29, 2019, and ordered to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced to time served and set for release. The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office then refused to honor the ICE detainer and instead released him back into the community.
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) deportation officers along with special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) were able to locate and arrest Ramirez Torres outside the Buncombe County Courthouse at approximately 3:30 p.m. October 30 when he arrived to register as a sex offender.
This arrest is simply the latest in a continuing list of unlawfully present foreign nationals released from local custody in North Carolina this year despite serious criminal charges that pose a clear threat to public safety. Across North Carolina, local authorities refused to honor more than 500 detainers for foreign nationals during Fiscal Year 2019. All of these detainer refusals are of persons criminally arrested by a law enforcement agency for a criminal offense beyond their violation of federal immigration law.
These convictions include offenses for assaults, burglary, sex offenses, DUI, and homicide. All of these unlawfully present foreign nationals were sought by ICE, and yet instead were released onto the streets of North Carolina by local authorities.
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.
When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release a criminal alien onto the streets, it negatively impacts public safety.
Sanctuary Policies Put Public Safety at Risk
- Sanctuary policies leave ICE with no choice but to increase enforcement in neighborhoods and workplaces to locate and arrest these persons while they are at-large – increasing the likelihood that other individuals previously not targeted for arrest will be taken into ICE custody.
- It is safer for everyone if ICE takes custody of an alien in the controlled environment of another law enforcement agency as opposed to visiting an alien’s residence, place of work, or other public area. Arresting a criminal in the safety, security, and privacy of a jail is always the best option.
- When law enforcement agencies don’t honor ICE detainers, these individuals, who often have significant criminal histories, are released onto the street, presenting a potential public safety threat. When ICE Fugitive Operations officers have to go out into the community to proactively locate these criminal aliens, regardless of the precautions they take, it needlessly puts our personnel and potentially innocent bystanders in harm’s way.