NEW YORK — A 23-year-old Colombian national illegally present in the U.S. was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) deportation officers Jan. 15. ERO lodged an immigration detainer with the New York City Department of Corrections (NYCDOC) on Ricardo Andres Pena Perez after he was arrested for sexually assaulting a child younger than 13 years old. NYCDOC released Pena into the community after he pleaded guilty to sexual conduct charges against a child, even though an active detainer was in place.
On June 25, 2018, Pena was arrested by the New York Police Department (NYPD) for the charges of predatory sex assault against a child: offense against a child less than 13 years old, and acting in manner to injure a child less than 17 years old. On the same date, ERO deportation officers lodged a detainer with the NYPD. On June 26, Pena was arraigned and remanded into the custody of the NYCDOC. That same date, ERO deportation officers lodged a detainer with the NYCDOC.
On Dec.18, 2019, Pena pleaded guilty to course of sexual conduct in the first degree: two or more acts against a child under the age of 11 in New York County Supreme Court. He was released from NYCDOC custody without the detainer being honored. He is pending sentencing.
Less than a month later, ERO deportation officers arrested Pena in Manhattan Jan. 15, 2020. He is currently in ICE custody pending immigration proceedings.
ICE removed or returned 267,000 aliens in fiscal year 2019. ERO arrested 143,000 aliens, more than 86 percent of whom had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.
ICE is focused on removing public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members; as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, such as those who illegally re-enter the country after a prior removal, and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.
ICE lodges detainers on individuals who have been arrested on criminal charges and who ICE has probable cause to believe are removable aliens. The detainer asks the other law enforcement agency to notify ICE in advance of release and to maintain custody of the alien for a brief period of time so that ICE can take custody of that person in a safe and secure setting upon release from that agency’s custody. When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission.
Congress has established no process, requirement, or expectation directing ICE to seek a judicial warrant from already overburdened federal courts before taking custody of an alien on civil immigration violations. This idea is simply a figment created by those who wish to undermine immigration enforcement and excuse the ill-conceived practices of sanctuary jurisdictions that put politics before public safety.
Sanctuary Policies Put Public Safety at Risk
When law enforcement agencies don’t honor ICE detainers, these individuals, who often have significant criminal histories, are released onto the street, presenting a potential public safety threat. Any local jurisdiction thinking that refusing to cooperate with ICE will result in a decrease in local immigration enforcement is mistaken. Local jurisdictions that choose to not cooperate with ICE are likely to see an increase in ICE enforcement activity, as ICE the agency has no choice but to conduct more at-large arrest operations. A consequence of ICE being forced to make more arrests on the streets is the agency is likely to encounter other unlawfully present foreign nationals that wouldn’t have been encountered had we been allowed to take custody of a criminal target within the confines of a local jail. Additionally, once these criminals are out on the street, confirming their whereabouts is often time consuming and resource intensive. Many of our arrest targets are seasoned criminals who are savvy about eluding law enforcement. Despite the severe challenges that local policies have created for ICE, we remain committed to our public safety mission and we will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators. ICE seeks straightforward cooperation with all local law enforcement and elected officials. ICE deportation officers carry out targeted enforcement actions every day in locations around the country as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect the nation, uphold public safety, and protect the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls.
ERO New York’s Area of Responsibility: The City of New York, and the following counties: Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester.