SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – An illegal immigrant killed three people after a local New Jersey jail denied a request to hold the man for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said federal authorities. The Mexican national is accused of a triple murder in Missouri. He was previously jailed and released in New Jersey on domestic violence charges, authorities said. As a result, this tragedy shines the spotlight on the ongoing conflict between local and immigration authorities nationwide.
Luis Rodrigo Perez, 23, a native of Mexico, is charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding two others on Nov. 1 and fatally shooting a woman the next day, NJ.com reported.
He was being held on domestic violence charges at the Middlesex County Jail in New Jersey in December 2017 and was released in February.
ICE officials said they placed a detainer on Perez while he was in custody, but the request was not honored. Moreover, the agency wasn’t notified when he was released, said Corey Price, acting executive director of ICE.
— ICE (@ICEgov) November 9, 2018
“Yet again, an ICE detainer was ignored and a dangerous criminal alien was released to the streets and is now charged with killing three people,” Price said. “Had ICE’s detainer request in December 2017 been honored by Middlesex County Jail, Luis Rodrigo Perez would have been placed in deportation proceedings and likely sent home to his country – and three innocent people might be alive today.
“It is past time that localities realize the perils of dangerous sanctuary policies and resume their primary goal of protecting their residents,” Price added.
In an email to the Associated Press, Middlesex County officials said the detainer wasn’t honored because it didn’t meet the necessary criteria.
“This order would have authorized Middlesex County to turn over custody of Mr. Perez prior to, or upon completion of his sentence,” they wrote. “Instead ICE officials chose to do nothing, which places all responsibility of Mr. Perez’s actions squarely upon ICE.”
Are Middlesex officials now covering their tail?
The county said it adopted a policy last year of honoring detainer requests from ICE if the inmate has convictions for first-or second-degree offenses or is ordered deported by a federal judge.
During Perez’s stint in jail, ICE never requested an order of deportation against Perez, county officials wrote.
Yet what occurs if the defendant pleads to a lesser offense or the charges are dropped? Presumably, the criterion is no longer met? What if a governor pardons the person in order to avoid deportation? It happened in New York last summer.
“Today I issued pardons to 7 individuals facing the threat of deportation resulting from minor convictions,” wrote Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a July 23, 2018 tweet.
Let’s face it, “minor convictions” are subjective. “If a burglar breaks in and ransacks your home, but ultimately makes off with less than a $1000 worth of valuables, he could ultimately plead guilty to petty theft as opposed to residential burglary in California,” said retired police lieutenant and LET managing editor, Jim McNeff. “That doesn’t feel like a ‘minor’ offense to the people who had their house invaded by a thief.”
“Wobbler” is a term used by people in the criminal justice system. “It refers to a crime that can be prosecuted as a felony, but more often than not is reduced to a misdemeanor in order to clear case files,” said McNeff. “As a result, thousands of ‘wobblers’ are adjudicated regularly. These become the ‘minor convictions’ we frequently read about.”
Missouri law enforcement officials believe Perez and Aaron Anderson, 19, killed their ex-roommates Steven Marler, 38, and Aaron Hampton, 23, after they were kicked out of their Springfield home.
Perez is also accused of killing a 21-year-old Sabrina Starr the next day at her house. In total, he is charged with eight felony counts in the shootings.
Anderson told investigators he was waiting with Starr in an SUV outside Hampton and Marler’s home when Perez shot them, adding that he could hear the victims begging for their lives while on the phone with Perez.
He was charged as an accomplice to first-degree murder and three other felonies.
Perez’s girlfriend, Dalia Garcia, 23, is charged with tampering with evidence after she allegedly rode a bus from New Jersey to help burn evidence.
President Trump has consistently bashed municipalities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. The U.S. Border Patrol officials said Friday that its agents detained more than 50,000 people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in October.
The news came on the same day Trump issued an executive order declaring that anyone entering the U.S. illegally from Mexico outside of established ports would be ineligible for asylum, reported Fox News.