WASHINGTON—Under a sanctuary policy, an illegal immigrant walked free from the Philadelphia Department of Prisons and went on to rape a child, according to the Department of Justice.
While Juan Ramon Vasquez, a citizen of Honduras, was in custody in 2015, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed a detainer on him—requesting that the prison transfer custody to the agency. ICE had information that Vasquez had been deported in 2009 and had illegally re-entered the United States in 2014, a felony.
Philadelphia Department of Prisons refused to honor the detainer and released Vasquez.
“Those of us in the law enforcement business should be doing everything in our power to protect vulnerable children from predators like Vasquez,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain in a statement. “Instead, this defendant received a free pass from the city of Philadelphia, … headed straight back into our community, and committed a heinous crime.”
Vasquez is currently serving a sentence of eight to 20 years in state prison for the rape and will be sentenced in November after pleading guilty to illegal reentry.
The mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, has been an outspoken proponent of his city being a sanctuary for illegal aliens.
A short clip of the mayor doing a victory dance and singing, “We are a sanctuary city, yeah,” went viral on June 6 after a federal judge ruled that the Justice Department couldn’t block federal funding to Philadelphia over its noncompliance with immigration authorities.
The video has since been dredged back up by critics who are calling the mayor complicit in the rape of the child.
On July 18, six so-called sanctuary states filed a joint lawsuit against the Justice Department, saying they are being coerced into compliance with immigration laws. The states are New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Virginia, and Massachusetts.
At issue are the federal funds awarded through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program, which the Justice Department oversees. Philadelphia received more than $1.6 million through the program for public safety initiatives in fiscal 2016.
The Justice Department sent a letter to all recipients of the funds in July 2017, saying they could be cut off if they do not comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, or notify federal immigration authorities before releasing an illegal alien.