For the second time in less than a month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement jabbed New York City officials over their sanctuary city policy.
ICE put out a statement Tuesday announcing the arrest of illegal immigrant MS-13 gang member Estivan Rafeal Marques Valasquez last week. Valasquez, a 19-year-old Salvadorian national, entered the country illegally and was ordered to be removed by an immigration judge in Nov. 2015.
He subsequently served time in Rikers Island Correctional facility for disorderly conduct. Valasquez has previously been convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree and reckless endangerment in the second degree.
The MS-13 gang member was released from Rikers even though ICE filed an immigration detainer for Valasquez in May 2016. Rikers falls under the jurisdiction of New York City, which has a stated policy of ignoring federal immigration detainers. The same day Valasquez was released, Feb. 16, he was arrested by ICE enforcement and removal operations. (RELATED: Violent MS-13 Attacks Across D.C. Stirring Community Panic)
“This man is by his own admission a member of a violent street gang and he was released back into the community. Honoring a detainer request is not about politics, it is about keeping New York citizens safe,” Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ERO New York, said in a statement. “ICE continues to welcome changes to the city’s current policy which is creating a potentially unsafe environment for its residents. ICE remains steadfast in solidifying its relationship with local law enforcement in the interest of public safety and national security.”
Decker made similar remarks in a Jan. 28 statement after ICE arrested a Mexican illegal immigrant convicted of drunk driving and armed robbery. The illegal alien was released by New York City Police Department officials who ignored an immigration detainer. President Trump has said he will defund local jurisdictions that ignore immigration detainers, and both of these statements have come since the president took office. ICE has not released similar statements for other cities.
Despite receiving billions of dollars in federal funding, New York City officials are adamant that they will continue to pursue a “sanctuary city” policy.