New York City Releases Felon Despite Immigration Authorities Requesting Custody

July 4, 2017 Updated: August 18, 2017

A once-deported Dominican man with a criminal record and felony arrest warrant was recently released by the New York Police Department on bail, despite immigration authorities requesting that he be handed over to them.

Instead, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) had to locate and arrest Joselin Medina as he left the Bronx Criminal Court in New York on June 16, the agency reported.

New York City is one of several self-proclaimed sanctuary cities that shield convicted criminals from immigration authorities.

The House dealt sanctuary cities a blow last week by voting 228–195 to cut federal funding to jurisdictions that fail to hand over illegal immigrants to immigration authorities when a detainer is lodged. A detainer is a request to local law enforcement to hold an inmate for up to 48 hours longer, for investigation and possible transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

The bill, called the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, will now go to the Senate.

In New York, in fiscal 2016, ICE submitted 80 inmate detainers to the NYPD, according to the mayor’s office. Of the 80 detainers, only two criminals were transferred to ICE.

Under the Obama administration, the number of illegal immigrants handed over to authorities nationwide plummeted to less than 3 percent of what it was six years prior, largely due to the government’s hands-off approach to illegal immigration.

Medina has a past felony conviction for the criminal sale of a controlled substance and a pending misdemeanor charge and felony re-entry charge, according to ICE.

“Even a federal criminal warrant issued by a United States magistrate is not enough for the city of New York to turn over a convicted felon to ICE,” said Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ERO New York. “It is unfathomable that New York would create such a public safety risk for the sake of political expediency.”

Medina is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and is facing up to 20 years in federal prison, after which he will be deported.

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