AUBURN, New York – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed a detainer Nov. 12, against a repeat immigration violator Guatemalan national Heriberto Perez-Velasquez with the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office, where he is currently detained after being arrested for vehicular homicide. Perez-Velasquez was arrested a month earlier by New York State Police on DUI charges and released from state custody on an appearance ticket with no notification to ICE.
By releasing an illegal alien with a history of driving under the influence, state authorities chose to release a serious public safety threat into the community where he is now implicated in a vehicular homicide.
“The Buffalo Field Office’s robust enforcement programs are focused at making upstate New York communities safe from dangerous criminal aliens and those that look to exploit our nation’s immigration laws,” said ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Buffalo Field Office Director Thomas Feeley. “The staff of the Buffalo Field Office works tirelessly to ensure that the upstate communities don’t become a safe haven for criminals.”
Perez-Velasquez, an illegal alien from Guatemala, was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol May 11, 2007, and removed to his home country later that month. Perez illegally re-entered the country at an unknown date. On Oct. 18, 2019, New York State Police arrested Perez for resisting arrest, DUI, and other charges. Perez was released from state custody on an appearance ticket and ICE was never notified.
On Nov. 10, 2019, the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office arrested Perez for vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. On Nov. 12, 2019, ICE lodged a detainer and warrant of removal with the sheriff’s office on Perez.
New York State policy severely limits state and local law enforcement cooperation with ICE and requires a judicial warrant to honor most ICE detainers.
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” demand only applies to criminal cases and does not exist for civil law matters.
In Fiscal Year 2018, the Buffalo Field Office made 1,582 arrests in the 48-county region – approximately 80 percent of those individuals either had a prior criminal conviction or came into ICE custody pursuant to their criminal arrest on pending charges. These statistics make clear that the agency conducts targeted enforcement focused first on criminals and public safety threats.
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