PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday blasted the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for not honoring a detainer against a 20-year-old driver accused in a crash that took the life of a young woman.
Alejandro Maldonado-Hernandez was arrested July 12 after a street race between a Chrysler 300 and a Subaru Impreza on SW Farmington Road and 153rd Avenue happened just before 11 a.m.
As they came to the intersection with SW 153rd, a Ford Fusion turned onto Farmington. The Chrysler slammed into the Ford while the Subaru kept going.
The crash killed Janace Ator, who was a passenger in the Fusion driven by her husband, Patrick. He was rushed to a local hospital for treatment of severe injuries.
Maldonado-Hernandez, 20, who authorities said was driving the Chrysler, was arrested and charged with manslaughter, assault and reckless driving.
Sometime between posting bail on August 8 and August 27, Maldonado-Hernandez fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.
In a press release Tuesday, ICE officials said Maldonado-Hernandez was in the country illegally. ICE officers placed an immigration detainer on him on July 16, but Maldonado-Hernandez was released from the county jail on July 8 after “the jail failed to honor the detainer.”
ICE officials said the agency “has the authority to lodge immigration detainers” on people suspected of crimes and who are believed to be “removable aliens.”
“Yet, across the United States, several jurisdictions refuse to honor detainers and instead choose to willingly release criminal offenders back into their local communities where they are free to offend,” the ICE release states.
In a statement, ICE official Nathalie Asher said:
“The decision to rebuff immigration detainers and not to hold dangerous individuals until ICE arrives to pick them up, is a costly one. There is nothing that should prevent local law enforcement officials from making a simple phone call to notify ICE that a criminal alien is being released. The decision to continue to site misguided sanctuary laws that allow dangerous criminals back on the streets, and many times the opportunity to flee prosecution, is irresponsible and jeopardizes public safety.”
In November 2018, Oregon voters overwhelmingly rejected Measure 105, which would have repealed Oregon’s sanctuary state status.
It is not clear at this time what prompted ICE to issue this press release about 3 months after Maldonado-Hernandez was reported to have fled to Mexico.
What the Washington County Sheriff’s Office says
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said:
“Delaying the release of any individual is a constitutional violation on our behalf. The continuing refusal of ICE agents to provide necessary legal justification for holding people they believe are a danger to our communities is the real problem, not the sheriff’s office insistence on following state law.”
Read their full statement at the bottom of this article
What the ACLU says
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Leland Baxter-Neal with the ACLU said:
“No Oregon law prevents state and local law enforcement from investigating crime, arresting people, and, if they are convicted, incarcerating them.
“What law enforcement cannot do is hold people in jail after they’ve paid their bail or have been ordered released by a judge. Since 2014, it has been federal law in Oregon that local law enforcement agencies cannot hold someone based on an ICE detainer, and to do so violates the U.S. Constitution. Yet ICE continues to send these detainers to local law enforcement, and then attacks these law enforcement agencies when they follow the law and don’t comply.
“ICE has one of the largest law enforcement budgets in the world, and it should not be throwing Oregon law enforcement under the bus.”
In September 2019, four more people were arrested in the case, including three people accused of helping Maldonado-Hernandez get away: Ernesto Garcia, 20, Alicia Scardina, 21, and 28-year-old Luis Maldonado-Hernandez. They are charged with hindering prosecution.
The Subaru driver, 20-year-old Bailey M. Reeves of Beaverton, faces manslaughter, assault, reckless driving and 2 counts of hit-and-run with injury.
Mike Melendez, the ICE Deputy Field Office Director, told KOIN 6 News on Tuesday they used to get a phone call from local law enforcement.
“Unfortunately, these days based on politics, we don’t have that luxury anymore,” he said. “Now we have to find these individuals at large.”
Melendez added that Luis Maldonado-Hernandez “was here in this country illegally and was removed in 2011 by ICE. Luckily with that information we were able to arrest him and he’s currently in ICE custody.”
Read: Full Statement from Washington County Sheriff’s Office
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