Montgomery County, where the alleged rape of a teenage girl by two illegal immigrants occurred, hired an immigration attorney for an exorbitant amount of money, The Daily Caller has learned.
Leon Rodriguez signed a retainer agreement on March 8 to provide legal services “in connection with immigration matters.” The agreement was for $575 an hour, the highest hourly rate Montgomery County spent for an attorney at the time. This came in the weeks before the alleged rape at Rockville High School that put Montgomery County in the national spotlight.
Rodriguez is the former director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and after leaving his post he became a partner at Seyfarth Shaw, a law firm with a large immigration practice. Prior to joining USCIS, Rodriguez was county attorney for Montgomery County and served on the board of Casa de Maryland, which works to protect illegal immigrants from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
While Rodriguez served on the board of the organization they handed out pamphlets designed to help illegal immigrants avoid deportation. Marc Hansen, county attorney for Montgomery, emailed Rodriguez on Feb. 16 telling him a previous email from him was “timely,” and asked whether Rodriguez could provide “consulting services regarding immigration matters.”
The emails were obtained by the Immigration Reform Law Institute through an open records request and were subsequently provided to TheDC. Hansen asked for assistance in understanding a particular matter which was redacted from the email.
A spokesman for the county attorney’s office didn’t specify what immigration issues Rodriguez is helping the county with in a statement given to TheDC Monday. The spokesman added, “The county was aware that some years ago he was on the board of Casa de Maryland. That is a part of his broad experience.”
Rodriguez’s “timely” contact with Hansen occurred while the Trust Act was introduced in the Maryland House of Representatives and Casa de Maryland was pushing a county version of the legislation. The Trust Act would make Maryland a “sanctuary” state and prohibit cooperation between police officers and ICE. Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has said he will veto the legislation. (RELATED: Sessions: The DOJ Will Take All Lawful Steps To ‘Claw Back’ Funds From Sanctuary Cities)
The attorney responded to Hansen that he would “absolutely” consult for the county and that his “standard billing rate is $765.” Rodriguez added that he didn’t think it would take too much time to help the county with the immigration matter. He eventually signed the retainer for $575 an hour after Hansen told him “the highes[sic] hourly rate we are currently paying is to Saul Ewing at $500 in connection with the transit center litigation.”
The Washington Post reported in November that Montgomery County has spent nearly $4 million in relation to this transit center litigation. Ian Smith, an attorney with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, told TheDC, “In general, one can conclude the emails show that the county is very serious about continuing its obstruction of the federal restrictions on sanctuary jurisdictions as well as the president’s executive order which seeks to take away federal grants from these areas.”
Montgomery County has denied that it is a “sanctuary” jurisdiction, but it was featured in a report from ICE of jurisdictions that ignored immigration detainers. The detainer was for a Salvadoran who was charged with assault. The report also listed Montgomery County as a jurisdiction that has “enacted policies which limit cooperation with ICE.” A Montgomery County council member previously called Trump’s executive order to cut federal funding to sanctuary jurisdictions “punitive.”
The two alleged rapists at Rockville High School were in the U.S. illegally, and had outstanding orders to appear before an immigration judge.