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ICE Chief Pleads With NYC To End Sanctuary Policies Following Grisly Murder Of 92-Year-Old

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • ICE chief Matthew Albence held a press conference in New York City in the aftermath of a 92-year-old woman’s death, allegedly at the hands of an illegal alien who had been previously released from local custody. 
  • Albence highlighted the murder as an example of how sanctuary policies make communities left safe. He pleaded with city officials to once again work with federal immigration authorities. 
  • NYC’s sanctuary policies are not supported by everyone in the local law enforcement community, with Sergeants Benevolent Association members demonstrating their support for ICE at the conference. 

Matthew Albence, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), held a press conference in New York City to “plead” with city leaders to end their sanctuary policies.

“As a 25-year law enforcement professional, it’s unbelievable that I have to come here and plead with the City of New York to cooperate with us to help keep this city safe, and unfortunately, it’s not a new battle,” Albence said Friday before a group of reporters. “Myself, and others within ICE and DHS, both in this administration and the last, have been trying for the better part of a decade to get this city to cooperate with ICE in furtherance our shared public safety mission.”

The ICE chief continued: “Time and time again, our efforts and our warnings of the disastrous consequences of non-cooperation — and even outright interference, have gone unheeded, resulting in tragedies such as this one.”

Albence was referring to the recent arrest of Reeaz Khan, an illegal alien from Guyana who is accused of sexually abusing and killing a 92-year-old woman on the streets of New York City earlier in January.

Khan had been arrested by the New York Police Department in November 2019 for allegedly assaulting his father, putting him on ICE’s radar. However, under NYC policy, ICE detainers are not honored, and Khan was eventually released from local custody.

Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Albence briefs reporters at the White House in Washington

Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Matthew Albence briefs reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Khan is far from the first individual to have been arrested in a sanctuary jurisdiction, released by local authorities, and had allegedly gone on to commit more heinous crimes.

NYC, the most populous city in the country, is perhaps the most notable for its lack of cooperation with federal immigration authorities — leading to thousands of ICE detainers unhonored.

Given the gruesomeness of the allegations surrounding Khan’s arrest, Albence organized a press conference to highlight the dangers of sanctuary policy.

Had NYC authorities cooperated with ICE and respected the detainer placed on him, Maria Fuentes, the 92-year-old victim, would still be here, he said.

“One simple phone call and Maria Fuentes would be alive today,” Albence added.

Two posters stood beside Albence: one that listed the names of criminals who had an ICE detainer put on them, but their detainers were ignored; and another that listed criminal illegal aliens in NYC custody, and were likely to be released.

“These are ones that are in jail now. These are ones that NYPD arrested recently. The guy in the bottom center looks familiar,” Albence said, referring to Khan’s face among those listed. “These are the ones that are going to be released, so get to know their faces now because New York is not going to cooperate with us, so at some point they’re going to be back in your communities.”

ICE officers carry out a raid as part of Operation Cross Check in Sherman Texas

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers carry out a raid as part of Operation Cross Check in Sherman, Texas, U.S., on June 20, 2019. Picture taken on June 20, 2019. Courtesy Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Handout via REUTERS

Also standing next to the ICE chief were members of NYC’s Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA). The inclusion of the SBA members intended to show that the local police force doesn’t necessarily agree with the laws passed by the city. They want to work with their federal partners, but are handicapped in what they can do.

“I can guarantee you every single of our members want to help them out. Unfortunately, the way our policies are set up, they don’t allow us to,” said Vincent Vallelong of the SBA. “It’s another law enforcement group. How do we have our own hands handcuffed to not be able to work with these guys?” (RELATED: ‘Using Every Tool Available’: ICE Subpoenas Sanctuary City For Information On Wanted Illegal Aliens)

ICE sent “thousands and thousands” of immigration detainers to NYC officials in recent time, it was mentioned in the press briefing. Out of those, roughly 10 were honored.

Of the criminal illegal aliens who were able to avoid federal immigration authorities because of sanctuary policy, hundreds of them had been booked for robberies, sexual assaults, DUIs and other crimes.

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