CHICAGO – Officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested an aggravated felon and immigration fugitive Wednesday at Union Station after he was released from an Illinois Department of Corrections jail despite an ICE detainer on file.
On Jan. 25, 2019, ERO officers filed a detainer with Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) for Yoni Cruz-Lopez, 24, a resident of Mt. Prospect, Illinois, and a citizen of Guatemala, after his felony conviction for driving under the influence (DUI). Cruz-Lopez has three DUI convictions (2015, 2016 and 2019).
In addition to his criminal convictions, Cruz-Lopez is an immigration fugitive. On Nov. 27, 2017, federal immigration judge ordered Cruz-Lopez removed from the United States, in absentia, when Cruz-Lopez failed to appear for his immigration hearing.
On Feb. 5, 2020, Cruz-Lopez was released from Vandalia Correctional Center (Illinois), despite ICE’s immigration detainer on file.
Late last month, IDOC cut off all communication with ICE and refuses to turn over convicted felons. ICE believes local law enforcement’s cooperation with ICE is crucial in promoting public safety.
These dangerous policies (sanctuary policies) leave ICE with no choice, but to increase enforcement to effect arrests to include neighborhoods and public places.
ICE officers are sworn federal law enforcement officers who operate within the confines of the law. Section 287 of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides ICE officers the authority to arrest aliens without a judicial warrant.
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 agency’s 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.
Sanctuary Policies Put Public Safety at Risk
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. 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 ICE 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 is the agency is likely to encounter other unlawfully present foreign nationals that wouldn’t 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. Despite the severe challenges that local policies have created for ICE, we remain committed to our public safety mission and we 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.
ERO Chicago’s Area of Responsibility: Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin.