Lake County, Ohio sheriff Daniel Dunlap slammed federal immigration agencies and current immigration policies for allowing the release of an illegal alien who went on a crime spree earlier this week which left a 60-year-old woman dead.
“The fact is current rules and regulations are making it extremely difficult for any police officer on the street to know which laws they can or cannot enforce in the area of undocumented persons,” Dunlap said in a statement on Friday, taking a clear shot at new immigration policies enacted under President Obama.
On Monday, 35-year-old Mexican national Juan Emmanuel Razo-Ramirez fatally shot Margaret Kostelnik in her home in Concord Township. That was just hours after he attempted to rape his 14-year-old niece and shot another woman who was walking on a trail with her two children.
But Razo-Ramirez was on law enforcement radar as little as three weeks ago when he was questioned by Lake County sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol agents during a suspicious person stop on July 7 in Painesville.
Now, Dunlap’s office and the Department of Homeland Security are accusing each other for allowing Razo-Ramirez to go free. (RELATED: DHS Deflects Blame In Case Of Illegal Alien Accused Of Murdering 60-Year-Old Ohio Woman)
On Tuesday, Dunlap said that his deputies were told not to detain Razo-Ramirez. But DHS told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that the deputies declined an offer to interview Razo-Ramirez in person.
“Although the agents offered to meet with the deputies on site and interview the subject in person, the offer was declined and the subject was released,” a DHS spokeswoman said.
But Dunlap disputes that contention in his Friday statement.
He said that deputies approached Razo-Ramirez at around 8 p.m. on July 7. He was on foot and was acting “extremely nervous, sweating profusely, and making every attempt to avoid eye contact,” Dunlap said.
Dunlap said Razo-Ramirez provided a false name but did admit to being in the U.S. illegally. He also said that while Razo had not committed any crime and a database showed he had no known criminal history, “his behavior alone would have in other circumstances been considered probable cause to detain Razo for further investigation.”
Dunlap said deputies then contacted Border Patrol and explained the situation with Razo-Ramirez. Two Border Patrol agents spoke with Razo-Ramirez, who became “less and less communicative” during the conversation and would not admit to them that he was in the U.S. illegally.
The deputies then requested that Border Patrol issue a detainer or a hold authorization to keep him in custody, Dunlap stated — a request which was denied.
“The deputies explained that the Sheriff’s Office could not further detain Razo legally without authorization from immigration authorities,” Dunlap said, adding that Razo-Ramirez was released because “Border Patrol would not issue a detainer.”
“Until recently detainers were routinely issued when requested,” Dunlap said.
The sheriff’s department also provided Razo-Ramirez’s name and address to Border Patrol but that the agency never acted on it, according to Dunlap.
“Why this information was never followed up on by Border Patrol agents is something for them to answer,” the sheriff said, noting that it “took two days to finally receive confirmation of Razo’s illegal status” from DHS after Dunlap’s office contacted the federal agency.
DHS did not respond to TheDC’s request for a response to Dunlap’s statement.
Dunlap said that the entire episode shows how difficult it is for local law enforcement to grapple with federal immigration laws.
“The fact is current rules and regulations are making it extremely difficult for any police officer on the street to know which laws they can or cannot enforce in the area of undocumented persons,” Dunlap said.
“Let us employ the probable cause standard to every encounter so that we at the local level may have the authority to detain undocumented persons,” he pleaded.
Razo-Ramirez’s case bears some similarities to that of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, the 45-year-old Mexican illegal who admitted to shooting 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco on July 1.
Lopez-Sanchez was released by the San Francisco sheriff’s department in April despite a detainer request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). San Francisco is a sanctuary city, meaning that it has policies preventing agencies from cooperating with federal immigration agencies.
But San Francisco’s sheriff and other city officials have blamed ICE for failing to do enough to gain custody of Lopez-Sanchez when he was in federal prison. Lopez-Sanchez was in prison on an illegal re-entry charge until March.
Both cases have exposed a huge communication gap between local law enforcement and federal agencies in handling cases involving illegal aliens.