Federal officials and a Missouri sheriff are lashing out at a New Jersey county after it was learned that one man charged in connection with three Missouri murders was not handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement when he was in custody before the killings, despite being in the country illegally.
Twenty-three-year-old Luis Rodrigo Perez, a Mexican citizen, was held at the Middlesex County Jail in December 2017 on domestic violence charges. But according to an ICE news release from John Tsoukaris, the head of ICE’s Newark field office, the county would not honor an ICE detainer to turn him over.
“In this most recent case, Perez had a violent history, but despite that, the detainer was not honored,” Tsoukaris wrote in the release. “We hope that this tragic turn of events forces Middlesex to reconsider its policy and that the local elected officials stop protecting criminal aliens.”
Perez was released in February without ICE being notified, NJ.com reported.
Perez and a 19-year-old man are facing charges for the murder of two men in Springfield, Missouri, on Nov. 2, and a woman the next day. Perez is being held without bail at the Greene County, Missouri, jail.
Brad Cole, sheriff of the neighboring Christian County, told KYTV that he cannot understand why criminals are set free.
“It makes no sense why we would be shielding someone who is here illegally from those laws,” he said.
“The illegal immigrant was released from Middlesex County there and came right here to the Midwest, right here to Southwest Missouri and killed three people … and we have three innocent people that are no longer here because of ‘sanctuary cities’ and ‘sanctuary counties’ that refuse to cooperate with the immigration laws of the U.S.,” Cole said.
“It affects everyone and it continues to grow and to be a bigger problem.”
Russ Hampton, the father of victim Josh Hampton, agreed.
“That’s what saddens me the most is because he was turning his life around … He started to Victory Mission … a really great place in Springfield … and I appreciate them a whole lot,” Hampton told KYTV. “A part of me wants to believe that he did get his life turned around. I raised him a certain way, and he understood who God was.”
Acting executive director of ICE Corey Price said the Middlesex County officials set in motion a chain reaction of tragedy.
“Yet again, an ICE detainer was ignored and a dangerous criminal alien was released to the streets and is now charged with killing three people,” he said, according to Fox News.
“Had ICE’s detainer request in December 2017 been honored by Middlesex County Jail, Luis Rodrigo Perez would have been placed in deportation proceedings and likely sent home to his country — and three innocent people might be alive today,” he said.
“It is past time that localities realize the perils of dangerous sanctuary policies and resume their primary goal of protecting their residents,” Price said.
Many on Twitter agreed.
How about someone investigate why an illegal immigrant was allowed to go free in a sanctuary city then murdered 3 people ? now that’s completely stupid. charge the mayor with murder. wait i get it ! US citizens just are not worth it.
— Michael Winkelman (@MichaelWinkelm7) November 12, 2018
ICE: Illegal immigrant released by ‘sanctuary’ charged with triple murder – https://t.co/icQWPIw4wV – @washtimes How many times does this type of tragedy have to occur before we hold sanctuary cities accountable? @realdonaldtrump #MAGA
— Rick Saccone (@RickSaccone4PA) November 11, 2018
New Jersey city were accomplices to murder just like San Francisco is responsible for the murder of Beautiful Kate Steinle
— eric einhorn (@dodgerhater1) November 9, 2018
Middlesex County officials said ICE did not meet the required terms to have Perez handed over.
The county will only turn over an individual who has a first-degree or second-degree conviction, Patch reported.
However, according to Patch, the county also argued that ICE could have obtained a deportation order from a federal judge but did not do so.
But Tsoukaris said the county has a history of not cooperating with ICE.
“We have tried unsuccessfully to work with Middlesex County Jail in the interest of public safety to accept detainers and to contact ICE prior to releasing criminals,” he said in the news release. “There have been other cases where ICE detainers were not honored and those released went on to commit serious crimes.”
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