U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting Director Matthew Albence on Friday said a suspect accused in the assault and murder of a 92-year-old woman earlier this week should have been deported long ago.
“I have to plead with the city of New York to cooperate with us to keep this city safe,” Albence said, adding that ICE officials have been trying for years to get New York City to cooperate with its policies.
“So, today I plead with the people of New York City and all other sanctuary cities throughout this country. … Let ICE help keep your communities safer. Allow ICE to prevent crimes such as this sexual assault and murder,” he remarked in his press conference.
Officials said 21-year-old Reeaz Khan, from Guyana, sexually assaulted and killed Maria Fuertes, the elderly woman, in Queens. But they stressed that he was in the United States illegally and should not have been in the country in the first place, according to a statement from ICE on Tuesday.
He said that Maria’s “tragic situation will be repeated” and said sanctuary policies will enable such crimes to occur in the future.
In its statement, ICE said Khan was arrested by the New York Police Department in November 2019 for assault and criminal possession of a weapon. Officials lodged a detainer with the NYPD but it wasn’t honored, the federal agency said, and Khan was released after he was arraigned “due to New York City’s sanctuary policies.”
However, the NYPD disputed ICE’s claims and said it didn’t obtain a “detainer in regard to this individual,” according to the New York Times. The city’s detainer law says that officials have to turn over violators to ICE if they are convicted of violent and serious offenses, and ICE has to meet legal and due process requirements under the law, a city official told the NY Times.
But Albence, in his press conference, stated that “ICE does not need a judicial warrant to issue a detainer, or to make an arrest.” He continued: “To be perfectly clear, not only does ICE not need a judicial warrant, there is no judge or magistrate anywhere in this country who has the authority to issue a judicial warrant for a civil immigration violation.”
When ICE lodges a detainer and issues a warrant, the individuals in question “have already been arrested for a criminal violation and booked into jail,” Albence continued.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokeswoman, Olivia Lapeyrolerie, said the mayor’s office “mourn with the family of Ms. Fuertes … If Mr. Khan is convicted, the city will cooperate with federal officials in accordance with local law.”
Following ICE’s initial statement, Lapeyrolerie criticized what she described as the politicization of a tragic crime.