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September 26, 2019Los Angeles, CA, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

Local ICE director discusses sanctuary policy impact on public safety

LOS ANGELES – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Los Angeles field office director for enforcement and removal operations held a press briefing today to highlight the impact of sanctuary policies on public safety and called on the public to hold local lawmakers accountable.

David Marin, Field Office Director for ICE ERO in Los Angeles, made clear that state and local jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement place their officers and the general public in potential danger by not honoring detainers or allowing criminal aliens to be transferred into ICE custody in the safety of a secure environment.

“This year, ICE lodged over 11,000 detainers with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, but unfortunately, less than 500 of those detainers have been honored,” Director Marin said. “These are criminal aliens and immigration violators who have been arrested and were in the custody of local law enforcement agencies.”

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 advises 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. In California, non-cooperative jurisdictions refuse to honor detainers and release criminal aliens back into the communities to re-offend.

A few examples of criminal aliens released back into the community:

  • On Sept. 24, ICE officers arrested Omar Lopez-Hernandez, 43, in Los Angeles. Lopez-Hernandez is a Mexican national with 12 prior arrests and four convictions for DUI. Three of the DUI arrests occurred in 2019 (Feb. April and July) at which times ICE lodged detainers with either the Los Angeles County Jail or the Los Angeles Police Department – all of which were not honored. Lopez-Hernandez has been removed to Mexico four times since 2002, most recently in November 2016.
  • Shane Matthew Russell, 31, an unlawfully present South African national has an extensive criminal history. Russell has multiple criminal convictions to include shoplifting, possession of a controlled substance, DUI, and child cruelty: possible injury or death. Since 2018, Russell has been arrested on multiple occasions and ICE has lodged a total of five detainers with arresting agencies, however those detainers have all been declined and Russell has returned to the community. He remains at large.
  • Los Angeles ERO officers arrested Enrique Ulloa-Amezquita in Indio, Ca., on July 9, 2019, and removed him to Mexico. Ulloa was convicted of importation of controlled substances and is an immigration violator who was on ICE ERO's Top Ten Most Wanted list. His lengthy criminal history includes multiple convictions and two prior removals from the U.S. to Mexico. ERO officers received a referral from the National Crime Analysis and Targeting Center indicating that Ulloa may have illegally re-entered the U.S. The Law Enforcement Support Center issued a detainer pursuant to Ulloa's arrest by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in Indio, Ca. Although the immigration detainer was not honored by the sheriff's office, ERO officers continued their investigation, which ultimately resulted in his arrest.
  • Osman Danilo Calderon, a Salvadoran national with an extensive criminal history was arrested by ICE officers Sept. 24, 2019. Calderon was ordered removed to his home country by an immigration judge after he was apprehended by U. S. immigration officers in Texas in 2005. ICE lodged a detainer on Calderon in 2009 following a conviction for DUI. He was arrested by ICE following his release from Los Angeles County Jail (LA County Jail) and removed to El Salvador in September 2009. ICE encountered Calderon again following his arrest for DUI in March 2018 and lodged a detainer with the LACJ. The detainer was not honored, and he was released. Calderon was arrested in June 2018 for another DUI, and ICE lodged another detainer with the LACJ which was again, not honored.

This week alone, while conducting daily targeted enforcement activities, Los Angeles deportation officers apprehended more than 155 removable aliens; 79 had been in local custody with ICE lodged detainers. (The Los Angeles area of responsibility includes the counties of: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo).

“These non-cooperative jurisdictions – sanctuary policies – are protecting these criminal aliens,” Director Marin said. “We are asking the public to hold lawmakers accountable, the California laws are failing the citizens of this state.”

Director Marin commended law enforcement partners who are working within the limitations of the sanctuary policies to ensure that criminal aliens are released to ICE. Approximately 70 percent of the arrests ICE makes happen after ICE is notified about an alien being released from local jails or state prisons.

ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement incompliance with federal law and agency policy, however the agency does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.