DENVER — Deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) placed a detainer Nov. 21 on Osmani Garces-Ortiz, an illegal criminal alien currently held in the Arapahoe County Jail (Colorado) on charges of murder, assault and violation of a bail bond, among other charges.
On Oct. 24, 2019, ICE placed a detainer on Osmani Garces-Ortiz, 37, an illegal criminal alien from Cuba, while he was held in Arapahoe County Jail for possessing drugs, criminal trespassing and violating a protection order. In keeping with a recently enacted Colorado law, Arapahoe County Jail could not legally honor the ICE detainer and Garces was released on bond Oct. 28, 2019.
Aurora Police Department arrested Garces-Ortiz Nov. 21 for attempted murder, assault and violation of a bail bond, among other charges; ICE deportation officers placed another detainer on him. He returned to custody with Arapahoe County Nov. 22.
On March 31, 2008, Garces-Ortiz first illegally entered the U.S. by boat near Key West, Florida. After being encountered by U.S. immigration officials, he was released on an order of recognizance. However, his non-immigrant waiver expired Nov. 3, 2012; and on Aug. 21, 2015, he was denied U.S. permanent residence status due to his criminal history.
The recently enacted sanctuary law in Colorado prohibits state-based law enforcement officers or probation officers from arresting or detaining criminal aliens solely on the basis of an immigration detainer. What this means for the safety of Colorado citizens is that local law enforcement jurisdictions must release aliens with criminal convictions and/or criminal charges without notifying ICE. Aliens convicted of serious crimes like murder now must be released to the streets without notifying ICE so they can re-offend in Colorado’s local communities or elsewhere.
This law undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission. As ICE has repeatedly made clear, when local jurisdictions refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement, they betray their duty to protect public safety.
Despite the severe challenges that local policies have created for ICE and our law enforcement partners, we remain committed to our public safety mission and will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators. ICE seeks straightforward cooperation with all local law enforcement and elected officials. ICE deportation officers carry out targeted enforcement actions every day in locations around the country as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect the nation, uphold public safety, and protect the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls.
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.
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.