U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has shared exclusively with The Daily Caller descriptions of three violent illegal immigrants recently released from custody in Cook County, Ill., instead of being forwarded to immigration jails and processed for deportation.
Releases like these became commonplace following the Board of Commissioners’ approval of a controversial ordinance that effectively — and immediately — ended the Chicago-area county’s participation in ICE “detainer” orders.
When the ordinance was debated in September, backers warned against the needless deportation of poor migrant workers ticketed for speeding one day and expelled from the United States the next. Instead, ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro told TheDC, the new law has quickly become associated with vicious criminal aliens released back into Chicago communities as soon as they can post bail.
“A 32-year-old Mexican national charged with a felony and traffic offenses after running a red light and then punching the police officer who arrested him, sending the officer to the hospital. On Sept. 7, 2011, he was released from Cook County despite an immigration detainer.
“A 28-year-old Mexican national arrested in September and charged with criminal trespass to vehicles (misdemeanor), aggravated battery of a peace officer (felony), and battery-cause bodily harm (misdemeanor). She was released from Cook County two days after her arrest despite an immigration detainer.
“A 33-year-old Mexican national arrested in September and charged with felony possession of cocaine. He was previously deported by the Border Patrol on Feb. 27, 2009 under an expedited removal order; that removal order would have been reinstated by ICE. He was released from Cook County on the day after his arrest despite an immigration detainer. Re-entry after deportation is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.”
Putting criminal aliens on ICE
Among ICE’s tools for identifying and removing illegal immigrants, a criminal detainer — a sort of red flag for immigration violators — is both common and efficient. When arrestees are processed by police into municipal courts, those who are subject to detainers are held, normally for up to two business days, even if they make bail or finish their jail sentences.
ICE agents can then pick them up and proceed with immigration charges.
A variety of different investigative programs, including “Secure Communities,” can generate ICE detainers. The Obama administration has touted that program as the centerpiece of tough new policies which have led to record numbers of deportations. But the American Civil Liberties Union and other liberal advocacy organizations have claimed the Secure Communities program is used to target illegal immigrants who violate traffic laws and other minor ordinances.
In large part because so many ICE detainers originated from the Secure Communities program, the Cook County Board — which consistently has a Democratic majority — voted 10–5 to stop cooperating with the federal government. Immediately, the county sheriff was directed to deny requests for immigration detainers unless ICE began footing the bill for housing inmates during those two-day holds.
The same ordinance also directed the sheriff to deny ICE agents access to inmates unless they arrive with a criminal warrant.
Felons roam free
During the Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting that preceded the Sept. 7 vote, proponents of the ordinance claimed only nonviolent and small-time offenders would evade federal custody.
“It’s a misdemeanor,” insisted County Commissioner Joan Murphy, a Democrat whose district covers Chicago’s south suburbs. “It’s nothing. This is the people that we’re talking about that are going to be released: not anyone that has a felony”
That assessment proved inaccurate. Murphy would later admit that she “misspoke,” but insisted that “the majority are being held for misdemeanors.”
Some, however, are released after making bail on felony charges. In one case, three illegal immigrants charged with aggravated battery and attempting to disarm a police officer walked out of jail after posting bond.
“Releasing [an illegal immigrant] who committed a forcible felony is wrong,” Rod Craig, the mayor of Hanover Park, Ill., told suburban Chicago’s Daily Herald. “That’s someone who doesn’t care about becoming a good citizen, or care about the things we value in our community.”
In a September email to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cook County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Patterson confirmed that “anyone charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime who posts their bond or has their case adjudicated” can be released without regard to ICE’s request for intervention.
The faces of ICE detainers
Through Freedom of Information Act requests, TheDC has conclusively identified one of the three criminal aliens described by ICE.
“Mr. Eduardo Sanchez was released from the Cook County Department of Corrections on 09/07/2011,” Cook County Assistant General Counsel Elizabeth Abraham said in an email.
“A search was generated pursuant to the information provided in your request for Nos. 2 and 3. However, without further identifiers, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is unable to narrow down the names/records you are seeking.”
Sanchez was featured in a Sun-Times story about the Cook County ordinance. The policeman who arrested him following a traffic stop ended up in the hospital. Sanchez’s mug shot tells most of the tale. He was one of the first individuals released after the ordinance passed.
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC president William Gheen told TheDC that laws like this turn local jurisdictions into co-conspirators in the breakdown of immigration enforcement.
“In places like Los Angeles and Chicago, we have a bunch of illegal immigrant facilitators,” He said. “Thousands of times a year a citizen of the United States is killed by an illegal alien.”
Gheen told the story of Jose Carranza, a Peruvian national who allegedly shot three college students, execution-style, in New Jersey in 2007. Miraculously, one survived. A fourth student was hacked to death with a machete.
Carranza, who was in the United States illegally, already had a long rap sheet and gang ties. Charged with raping a 5-year-old girl, he made bond and left jail, prosecutors say, before his schoolyard killings.
Even the National Council of La Raza, politically progressive and typically outspoken, has declined to support the Cook County ordinance, according to the group’s Chicago spokeswoman Maricela Garcia. Garcia told TheDC that La Raza favored a policy in which local sheriffs have discretion to detain specific criminal suspects for federal immigration authorities. San Francisco County in California has such a policy.
Tim Schneider, a Republican Cook County Commissioner from the Northwest suburbs and an outspoken opponent of the anti-ICE ordinance, referred to it as “our Willie Horton moment” during the debate that led to its passage.
Schneider’s office would only tell TheDC that he is considering a wide range of options, and would not commit to sponsoring a specific piece of legislation to repeal the controversial law.
In an October statement to WorldNetDaily about immigration detainers, ICE said it “has not sought to compel compliance through legal proceedings.”
“Jurisdictions that ignore detainers,” the agency added, “bear the risk of possible public safety risks.”