Montgomery County Reverses Sanctuary Policy After String of Illegal Immigrants Charged With Rape

Paula Liu
By Paula Liu
November 5, 2019US News
Montgomery County Reverses Sanctuary Policy After String of Illegal Immigrants Charged With Rape
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer. (Screenshot via Reuters)

A county in Maryland has partially reversed a sanctuary policy just three months after it was passed. The move comes after a string of illegal immigrants have been charged with rape in Montgomery County.

The policy banned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials from accessing secure portions of Montgomery County jail. It’s reversal, which was effectively immediately, means ICE can now access “identified areas” of the jail to “ensure that transfers are conducted in a safe environment.”

The policy says ICE must submit an immigration detainer and arrive at the jail an hour before the inmate is set to be released, reported WJLA. If ICE fails to comply for whatever reason, the county will release the illegal immigrant into the community, just as the county was doing before, regardless of the crime the person has been charged with.

According to the station, the discharge time can take anywhere between less than an hour to half a day, depending on several factors such as the number of jail staff, population of the inmates at that particular jail, and home verification checks.

Law enforcement sources told WJLA that local and federal authorities in Montgomery County cooperated in the transfer of an individual on Oct. 21.

montgomery county police
Montgomery County police vehicles in Rockville, Md., on Sept. 13, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s rolled back jail ban still prohibits ICE officials from accessing secure parts of the jail unless there is a pre-authorized custody transfer that meet the stated requirements. The ban also prohibits ICE agents from entering “non-public areas of all county-owned facilities” including libraries, police stations, and recreation centers.

The reversal comes after a recent rash of alleged rapes in Montgomery County, many of the victims are children.

The first case that sparked the controversy came to light in late July, when two illegal immigrants were charged with repeatedly raping an 11-year-old girl over the course of a month in 2018.

The two men, Carlos Palacios-Amaya and Mauricio Barrera-Navidad, are Salvadoran nationals who are in the country illegally, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The men allegedly raped the girl in her own home on separate occasions after being introduced by her brother, according to court documents.

The victim, a student at Neelsville Middle School, said Palacios-Amaya would ask her to skip school so she would be home alone. He also recorded a video on his cellphone of one of the assaults, court documents say.

ICE said Palacios-Amaya was deported on June 5, 2014, and reentered the country undetected. Barrera-Navidad had been ordered removed by an immigration judge in December 2016. Both of their trials have been set for early 2020.

Mauricio Barrera-Navidad, 29 and Carlos Palacios-Amaya, 28, both illegal immigrants from El Salvador, raped an 11-year-old girl, the girl said. Police found pictures of the girl with Palacios-Amaya on his cellphone. (Montgomery County Police Department)

Elrich signed the policy, dubbed “The Promoting Community Trust Executive Order,” into effect in July. It prevented police from asking about a person’s immigration status and largely refrained ICE from getting involved, cutting off the county’s cooperation with federal authorities, reported the Daily Caller.

In late August, amid the string of rapes allegedly committed by illegal immigrants and many of the victims children, Elrich said in a statement that the county cannot honor ICE detainers unless ICE agents present a warrant signed by judge. However, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, ICE officials do not need such a signature, reported the Daily Caller.

“The public has been misled to believe that certain judges have the authority to sign a warrant for civil immigration violations—but no such judicial authority exists. This idea is a myth created by those who either oppose immigration enforcement efforts, are misinformed, or who do not understand how the immigration system works,” an ICE spokesperson told the news outlet.

“That is bad for public safety. It’s bad for Maryland’s citizens. It’s bad for Maryland’s immigrants. Somebody is going to get hurt,” said Frank Madrigal, the deputy director of Baltimore’s ICE Field Office, WJLA reported.

Epoch Times reporter Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.

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