New Details Emerge in Delayed Arrest of Sen. Menendez’s Illegal Alien Staffer

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internal documents confirm that officials delayed arresting pro-amnesty Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) illegal alien sex offender staffer until after the November elections. (Associated Press, Jan. 15, 2013) The illegal alien sex offender–18 year-old Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, who overstayed his visitor visa from Peru – worked on immigration issues at one of the Senator’s New Jersey offices.(Id.; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Dec. 17, 2012)

Shockingly, at the time the Associated Press (AP) reported the delayed arrest, DHS decried the story as “categorically false.”(Associated Press, Jan. 15, 2013) The unnamed U.S. official cited in the original AP story claimed DHS had instructed federal agents to delay Sanchez’s arrest until after Election Day. (Id.) Assistant DHS Secretary Nelson Peacock, however, vehemently rejects the allegation that the delay was “for political purposes.” (Id.) However, the internal documents, which were released after Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and six other Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded answers from the White House, confirm the AP’s report that the delay was for political gain. In fact, immigration agents were prepared to arrest Sanchez on October 25, two weeks before the election, but ICE officials in Washington ordered the delay, claiming the arrest “had the possibility of garnering significant congressional and media interest.” (Id.)

Disturbingly, police records reveal that then-15 year old Sanchez was arrested in 2009 on aggravated sexual assault charges. (Id.) Accused of sexually assaulting an 8 year-old boy at least eight times, he was sentenced to two years’ probation and required to register as a sex offender. (Id.) Sanchez, however, did not update his sex offender registration and applied for the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) backdoor amnesty program, which would have allowed him to legally stay in the country and work for two years. (Id.; see FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 19, 2012; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 26, 2012) The DHS documents establish that immigration officials were aware Sanchez applied for DACA but further delayed arresting him until Citizenship and Immigration Services formally denied his application. (Associated Press, Jan. 15, 2013) Sanchez did not disclose his arrest or sex offender status on the application. (Id.)

Although the internal documents fill in some of the gaps, many questions remain unanswered. Primarily, DHS failed to explain the department’s review process of potentially sensitive, high profile immigration cases when arrests are delayed. (Id)

Sanchez, who was eventually arrested on December 6, has since been released from an immigration jail and is facing deportation. (Id.)

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    I read in the Daiy News this a.m. that Kevin James, who is in the running for the next mayor of L.A. has softened his view on legal immigration, fine, but they, the hispanics, don’t see the difference. Whether you speak english or not is of no concern, that along with one million gimmes is the only thing you concern yourself with.

  2. avatar

    Bob Menendez will support anyone with an Hispanic surname no matter how many kids they rape. Illegal aliens can do no wrong in his warped mind. Being “Latino” means a permanent Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card! The voters of the Garden State should be ashamed to have put this criminal enabler into high office. Now, all Americans have to pay the price for their stupidity.

  3. avatar

    And where is the media on this story of the delay? This article came out on Jan. 15, a week ago. First of all, it proves that DHS outright lied, because when the story originally came out a month ago they called it “categorically false”. But the documents released prove it was exactly what AP said it was. They delayed the arrest because in their own words it “had the possibility of garnering significant congressional and media interest”. Yeah, EXACTLY. What possible reason could there be for delaying this but political considerations? What public interest could possibly be served by this delay. The answer is none. This guy was accused of molesting an 8 year old boy numerous times and had already had to register as a sex offender. I don’t recall any delays when Mark Foley was accused of fraternizing with Congressional pages. More lying and covering up by this thoroughly political DHS. And just further proof that this administration will bend the truth and public safety to their own agenda.

  4. avatar

    DHS Doesn’t Use Criminal Data Bases or E-Verrify to Check Foreign Visitors

    They just look innocent and meanwhile, do nothing. Perhaps they’re afraid they’ll infuriate China?