Illegal immigrants facing charges for murder, child sex offenses, rape, drug trafficking and robbery could be released onto the streets across North Carolina due to "sanctuary" policies that shield undocumented criminals from deportation, federal authorities are warning.
The notice comes from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is stepping up its public campaign against sanctuary policies, under which cities and counties refuse to cooperate with ICE detainers. Those detainers are requests for local jurisdictions to notify ICE to an illegal immigrant's release, and then hold onto them until authorities can take them into custody and deport them.
"[W]hen local jurisdictions refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement, they not only betray their duty to protect public safety, but force ICE to be more visible in those areas," the agency said in a statement, asking the jurisdictions to "transfer these individuals to federal custody instead of releasing them to the community where they may reoffend."
ICE last year deported more than 145,000 criminal illegal immigrants, and the agency says that about 70 percent of arrests it conducts occur via a detainer from a local or state jail or prison.
But amid calls for ICE to be abolished entirely -- even among lawmakers and 2020 presidential hopefuls -- some cities have pushed anew for sanctuary policies. Activists claim that sanctuary policies protect the human rights of immigrants and encourage immigrant communities to report crimes and cooperate with police.
The consequences, ICE counters, can be dire. The agency is now drawing attention not only to those released already, but those who eventually could be released if sanctuary cities don't comply with ICE detainers.
The latest list includes those who could eventually be roaming the streets in places like Wake County and Mecklenburg County, N.C.
Not everyone on the roster has served their sentence or even been convicted at this stage -- meaning some may not be released for years or, in the most serious cases, ever. But ICE officials stress that sanctuary policies mean that whenever they do finish their sentence, those with convictions are likely to be released under sanctuary policies without ICE getting so much as a phone call. In blaring bold-faced letters above each defendant's mugshot, is a warning from ICE: "MAY BE RELEASED INTO YOUR COMMUNITY."
The list of names, along with the charges they face, includes:
Efren Ernesto Caballero -- Murder
Adrian Alvarez Portugez -- Murder
Jose Brayan Guzman -- Murder
Kirk Walter Nunez-Serraios -- 1st degree rape of a child; indecent liberties with a child
Miguel Angel Tapia Martinez -- Indecent liberties with a child; attempted 2nd-degree forcible rape; 2nd-degree forcible rape
Alan Miguel Ruiz -- Attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon; breaking and entering; larceny; possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia
Angel Vagas Ventura -- Drug trafficking; resisting arrest; possession of drug paraphernalia; possession of methamphetamine
Adrian Alvarez Portugez -- Indecent liberties with a child; sexual battery; statutory sex offense by an adult
Among those who already have arrests and convictions for serious crimes include:
Alejandro Gomez Cervantes -- Five counts of indecent liberties with a child; three counts of statutory sex offense with a child by adult; statutory rape of a child by adult.
Francisco Javier Diaz Rodriguez -- three counts of indecent liberties with a child; two counts of sexual act by sub/parent custodian; two counts of statutory sex offense with a child by adult.
Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence, who has been outspoken in highlighting the dangers of sanctuary cities, said in a statement that lawmakers should put public safety above political agendas. He also repeated warnings from law enforcement that, if jails did not cooperate with ICE, it means they have to go into cities and towns to track down those who have been released.
“Uncooperative jurisdictions such as Wake County should be on notice that as long as criminal offenders are being released, they should get used to seeing a lot more ICE at-large enforcement activity in their communities,” he said.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., has introduced legislation to clarify DHS's detainer authority "so sheriffs can no longer make up excuses" when they refuse to honor requests.
“We cannot and will not stand by and let these criminals walk our streets and put our communities in danger," he said in a statement.
An ICE spokesman told Fox News on Wednesday that the agency was planning on highlighting similar cases in other sanctuary jurisdictions across the country. The warning comes as the agency has held a number of briefings designed to highlight the danger of sanctuary policies. In one of those briefings, Albence stood alongside sheriffs including Texas Sheriff Bill Waybourn, who said that illegal immigrants were being held in his Tarrant County's jails for crimes including murder, sexual assault and driving while intoxicated.
"So if we have to turn them loose or they get released, they're coming back to your neighborhood and my neighborhood,” he said. “These drunks will run over your children and they will run over my children.”
The increasingly aggressive push by ICE is echoed by the White House. President Trump has attempted to defund sanctuary cities by executive order -- a move that was blocked by a federal judge -- and has threatened to send illegal immigrants straight to sanctuary cities.
"They're not too happy about it," he told supporters in Wisconsin in April. "That was my sick idea, I have to tell you."
Meanwhile, within the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli has been calling out Montgomery County, Md. Executive Mark Elrich for introducing sanctuary policies in July -- after which there was a spate of sex crimes allegedly committed by illegal immigrants.
After Elrich lumped critics such as Cuccinelli in with “neo-Nazi sympathizers,” Cuccinelli challenged him to a televised debate.
“I’ll defend children and crime victims, Elrich can defend rapists and murders who shouldn’t even be in this country. What do you say, Mr. Chairman?” Cuccinelli tweeted
But this week, Elrich reportedly rolled back parts of the executive order and correctional officers have been ordered to give ICE agents clearance to "identified areas" of the jail to "ensure that transfers are conducted in a safe environment."
“I guess 9 sexual assaults in 9 weeks - many preventable - was enough,” Cuccinelli said in response to the news.
There have also been other signs that public discontent with sanctuary cities is growing. In the city of Tucson, Arizona, voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a measure to make the city an official sanctuary city and impose even more measures on officers trying to enforce federal immigration law.