Reeaz Khan shouldn’t have been out on the street when he allegedly murdered and sexually assaulted a 92-year-old woman.
It wasn’t just that Khan was in the country illegally from Guyana.
Nor was it the fact that he had been arrested just a few months prior for allegedly assaulting his father.
Rather, it’s the fact that New York, a sanctuary city, ignored a detainer order from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — and then lied about it.
According to WABC-TV in New York, authorities say Khan, 21, sexually assaulted and then killed Maria Fuentes in the Richmond Hill area of Queens last Friday. He was officially charged by a grand jury on Wednesday.
“A grand jury has taken action indicting this defendant to hold him accountable for the horrible attack of an elderly woman, who was beloved in her neighborhood,” a statement from Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said.
“The defendant is accused of pouncing on the 92-year-old woman from behind, throwing her to the ground and then sexually assaulting her before he ran from the scene,” Katz said. “The victim was discovered hours later barely conscious, incoherent and naked from the waist down. The defendant has been apprehended and will be prosecuted for his alleged heinous actions.”
Khan is being held on Rikers Island.
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) January 15, 2020
The problem, of course, is that he shouldn’t have been in the country in the first place — and he definitely shouldn’t be out on the streets after a detainer was issued by ICE against him when he was arrested for allegedly stabbing his father with a broken coffee cup back in November.
Khan hadn’t been convicted of a violent crime, however, which is what New York requires to turn alleged criminals over to ICE under its sanctuary policy.
“It is made clear that New York City’s stance against honoring detainers is dangerously flawed,” Thomas Decker, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in New York, said, according to WABC.
“It was a deadly choice to release a man on an active ICE detainer back onto the streets after his first arrest included assault and weapon charges, and he now faces new charges, including murder,” he said.
Yet New York authorities initially said they’d received no detainer from ICE officials, with a statement from the NYPD saying they “did not receive an ICE detainer in regard to this individual,” according to the New York Post.
That story collapsed quickly.
The agency tweeted the initial detainer order along with a statement from Matthew Albence, ICE’s acting director.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for NYC to blame ICE for this tragic crime,” Albence said in the Wednesday tweet.
“The mayor & police chief have continually celebrated that they don’t honor ICE detainers, & to deflect the criticism for this completely preventable murder is incredibly disingenuous & shameful.
“ICE could’ve wallpapered the precinct with detainers & #NYPD would still not have honored them.”
“It is the height of hypocrisy for NYC to blame ICE for this tragic crime. The mayor & police chief have continually celebrated that they don’t honor ICE detainers, & to deflect the criticism for this completely preventable murder is incredibly disingenuous & shameful… (1/2) pic.twitter.com/zTQIBIfoR9
— ICE (@ICEgov) January 15, 2020
…ICE could’ve wallpapered the precinct with detainers & #NYPD would still not have honored them.” –Matthew Albence, Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2/2) pic.twitter.com/EPoqsAINmH
— ICE (@ICEgov) January 15, 2020
At this point, the mayor’s office stepped in to chastise the administration of President Donald Trump for “politicizing” the crime.
“If Mr. Khan is convicted, the city will cooperate with federal officials in accordance with local law,” a spokeswoman from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said.
“It is shameful that the Trump Administration is politicizing this tragedy.”
It’s not shameful to bring up politics when a tragedy happens because of politics — and that’s what sanctuary laws are, political posturing. What they say is that a locale is willing to thumb its nose at immigration law and federal law enforcement in order to stand with illegal immigrants.
Does it matter that these are illegal immigrants who’ve been arrested? Not in the slightest, apparently. But please, don’t bring up that the failure to honor this detainer left a man accused of a violent crime out on the street to allegedly commit a far more serious crime.
Cries of “no politicization” won’t make this go away, not when New York City made it possible for Reeaz Khan to be out on the streets.
Policies have consequences. If what authorities are saying is accurate, the consequence here was one of the most execrable crimes imaginable.
Khan needs to be held accountable for his actions, whatever they may be. However, he’s hardly the only one.
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