by Jason Hopkins
An illegal alien charged with felony manslaughter fled the U.S. after local authorities ignored an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer request and released him into the public, according to federal officials.
Alejandro Maldonado-Hernandez, a Mexican national in the U.S. illegally, was involved in a deadly car crash in Washington County, Oregon, in July and transported to a hospital for minimal injuries, according to an ICE press release Tuesday. The driver and passenger of the other vehicle, however, were not as fortunate. Patrick Ator was treated for severe injuries while his wife, Janace Ator, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities arrested Maldonado-Hernandez — who was allegedly responsible for the accident — the same day, July 12, and charged him with felony manslaughter in the second degree, assault in the third degree and misdemeanor reckless driving. He was ultimately booked into the Washington County jail.
ICE lodged an immigration detainer request with the Washington County jail on July 16. Such requests ask that local authorities hold onto an illegal alien in their custody until an ICE agent is able to arrive and arrest the individual, or to notify ICE if they are about to release the individual.
Washington County authorities did not honor the request in Maldonado-Hernandez’s case and released him into the community on Aug. 8, according to ICE.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office discovered later in August that Maldonado-Hernandez, 20, fled to his home country of Mexico, allowing him to avoid prosecution. ICE reported that he remains at large.
“It is real slap in the face to the victims friends and family when criminal aliens, in this case a man who has caused the death of a woman and severe injuries to her husband, are released into the community due to dangerous sanctuary policies,” Nathalie Asher, Seattle field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, said in a statement Tuesday.
“How many lives have to be lost before politicians are more concerned about public safety than their own political agendas?” she continued.
The incident marks one of the latest dust-ups between federal immigration authorities and liberal localities across the country. A growing number of local governments are declaring that they will no longer honor ICE detainers, arguing that the issue is a matter for the federal government and that such requests require a judicial warrant.
“Had ICE agents provided a valid warrant or order signed by a federal judge during that time, Mr. Maldonado-Hernandez would have remained in custody,” the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Tuesday, Fox 12 Oregon reported.
ICE contends that, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the agency has the authority to issue arrest warrants on individuals deemed likely to be illegal aliens.
“The decision to rebuff immigration detainers and not to hold dangerous individuals until ICE arrives to pick them up is a costly one,” Asher said. “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 cite 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,” she added.
– – –
Jason Hopkins is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.