Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, are defending the policy of non-cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which has resulted in three illegal immigrant rape suspects walking back onto the streets.
It has been reported that weeks after officially affirming its sanctuary status, county corrections officers did not honor a detainer request issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and released a 25-year-old illegal alien on a $1,000 bond three days after his arrest on rape charges. In setting Salvadoran national Rodrigo Castro-Montejo free, the county appears to have violated the sanctuary policies set out in a July executive order.
The Promoting Community Trust Executive Order, which was effective July 22, makes official the sanctuary policies that have been practiced for years in the county. However, the order does have limited exceptions when contact with ICE is permissible, including when the defendant is charged with or convicted of at least one “serious crime,” such as rape or murder. The other qualifier is that ICE must have previously filed an immigration detainer against the accused.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lodged a detainer on Aug. 12 with the Montgomery County Detention Center on unlawfully present Salvadoran national Rodrigo Castro-Montejo following his arrest for rape and other related charges. On Aug. 13, in spite of the detainer, the facility released Castro from custody,” said ICE in a statement on Monday.
Montgomery County spokesman Barry Hudson tried to shift blame from the county to ICE, telling WAMU radio that federal immigration authorities were notified when Castro-Montejo posted bond. However, according to ICE spokesperson Justine Whelan, the county detention center called “one off-duty officer, who was in a travel status outside of the area” just six hours before his release.
It is not an isolated circumstance when the county’s reckless sanctuary policies have contributed to the harm of an innocent resident. Just last week, Carlos Palacios-Amaya and Mauricio Barrera-Navidad, El Salvador nationals, were arrested on charges of raping the 11-year old sister of a friend of theirs on numerous occasions last September.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, who signed the sanctuary executive order into law, rightly described the rape of a minor child as “horrible” and said in this one case ICE’s detainer requests would be fulfilled.
But he also devoted two paragraphs of a three-paragraph statement to justifying the sanctuary policy and claiming it makes communities safer. Much the same defense came from the Montgomery County Council, which followed suit on Friday by issuing what they called a “statement on justice and healing for [sic]young victim[IM1] .”
The council members, who said they were “heartbroken” about the rape, expressed “support” for prosecutors giving “the individuals responsible the punishment they deserve” because “our community’s safety is of greatest importance.”
The only upside to that case is that a judge set bond at $100,000for Barrera-Navidad, who remains in jail, and denying bond for Palacios-Amaya. In response to questions from media about whether the county was trying to escape responsibility for the release of the two alleged rapists. Hudson bluntly blamed ICE.
“If the system failed, it failed on the federal government,” said Hudson, adding that the county “has not washed its hands of anything,”
These two recent obscenities are just the cases about which the public knows. There could (and likely are) be more criminal aliens being released onto the street because of the new law or confusion by law enforcement officials on how to implement it. Montgomery County law enforcement officers have described the new policy set forth with the executive order as being “ambiguous” and “confusing.”
What is neither ambiguous nor confusing is that Montgomery County officials clearly see their duty now as protecting the policy and their name as a “welcoming” county. And, when they can get around to it, the innocent residents who live there.