It’s another disgusting display of partisanship that’s putting American lives in jeopardy.

On Tuesday, the Buncombe County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office released a convicted child molester from custody.

Why?  Because he said ICE never obtained a warrant for his arrest.

“[Marvin] Torres was in the custody of the Buncombe County Detention Center for more than two years with the full knowledge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” read a statement from the sheriff’s office. “During that time ICE sent a detainer request, but failed to secure an arrest warrant and therefore Mr. Torres met the conditions of his release set forth by the judicial system.”

Quentin Miller, who is the Buncombe County Sheriff, is one of a number of North Carolina officials who flat out refuse to cooperate with ICE detainer requests.

“The sheriff’s office will continue to comply with all applicable state and federal laws. However, we do not make or enforce immigration laws; that is not part of our law-enforcement duties,” Miller said.

His comments were made back at a February press conference.

“It is vital that members of our immigrant community can call the sheriff’s office without fear when they are in need of assistance from law enforcement.”

You know what else is vital? That we keep child molesters off the streets.

As far as the release of Torres, Miller said, “If ICE is aware of an individual that they have determined to be a danger to the public safety of Buncombe County, then ICE should obtain a warrant for their arrest.”

In 2017, Torres was arrested.  He was convicted this week of “indecent liberties with a minor”, but was only sentenced to time served, after which he was released.

“This is yet another example of how reckless sanctuary policies are putting dangerous criminals back into our communities and impeding the ability of federal law enforcement to do their jobs,” said North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis.

The Republican released a statement on the incident.

“It’s a dereliction of [the sheriff’s] duty to keep North Carolinians safe.”

Just last week, an ICE official revealed in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that L.A. police were releasing up to 100 illegal immigrants per day.  That’s under policies implemented by head L.A. sheriff Michael Moore.

“Cooperation between ICE and state and local law enforcement agencies is critical to the agency’s efforts to identify and arrest removable aliens, and to protect the nation’s security,” the official, Timothy Robbins, said.

He pointed out the danger.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing more jurisdictions that refuse to work with our officers, or directly impede our public safety efforts.”

In August, we shared the story about how Democratic Governor Ray Cooper of North Carolina has chosen which side of the national argument he stands on regarding those who snuck into the country who have committed crimes, and cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)- and it’s not on the side with law enforcement or law-abiding citizens.

On Wednesday August 21st, Cooper vetoed a bill (House Bill-HB 370) that would require state and local law enforcement to cooperate with immigration and customs enforcement.

 This bill had originally passed the North Carolina House of Representatives along party lines – and previously through the Senate earlier in June of this year.   Cooper wasted no time to veto the legislation, less that 24 hours after its passage.

According to NewsObserver.com Cooper justified his veto releasing the following statement:

“This legislation is simply about scoring partisan political points and using fear to divide North Carolina, as the former top law enforcement officer of our state, I know that current law allows the state to jail and prosecute dangerous criminals regardless of immigration status.

This bill, in addition to being unconstitutional, weakens law enforcement in North Carolina by mandating sheriffs to do the job of federal agents, using local resources that could hurt their ability to protect their counties.”

Cooper went on to further argue against the legislation stating that there was a portion of the bill that required the Sheriff to cooperate with ICE, and failure to do so, could result in the removal of the sheriff from their elected position.

According to CNN, the legislation:

“would have required authorities to determine whether prisoners are legal US residents, and if they were unable to do so, to inquire about their residency status with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security and flag to the agencies if someone was in the country illegally.

Authorities also would have been required to allow ICE or DHS officials to interview prisoners upon request and detain prisoners if asked to do so by federal authorities until they could be transferred.”

Several news outlets have attributed the legislation as political posturing and also part of an agenda that is being forced onto states by the Trump administration. However, Republicans in North Carolina have come out in strong support for the legislations, stating it is a way to protect the law-abiding citizens on the state.

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As reported by the Raleigh News & Observer, North Carolina Republican State Senator Chuck Edwards responded to the Democratic Governor’s veto, stating:

“Law-enforcement officers have a sworn responsibility to protect their citizens — and that includes cooperating with federal authorities. Unlike Governor Cooper, who prefers to pander to his far-left supporters, we will protect North Carolinians and plan to override his irresponsible veto.”

Sources say that the Republicans created this legislation in direct response to the election, in the past year, of several new Sheriff’s in largely liberal counties. 

In August, we reported about how another North Carolina sheriff was knowingly releasing criminals and rapists onto the streets so he could  fulfill his campaign promise.

The sheriff found himself in the national spotlight and on the defensive for his decision to end a voluntary program with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden had only been sworn into office less than a week in December of 2018, according to Fox New46, when he informed Immigration and Customs Enforcement that his department and officers would no longer participate in the 287(g) program which had been in place since 2006.

According to the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement website the: 

“(ICE) 287(g) Program enhances the safety and security of communities by creating partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies to identify and remove aliens who are amenable to removal from the United States.”

The website goes on to explain:

“This section of law authorizes the Director of ICE to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies, that permit designated officers to perform limited immigration law enforcement functions.” 

It is also written in the definition of 287(g)-officers of state or municipal agencies that participate in this program receive specialized training, and are supervised by ICE officers. Overall the goal of ICE 287(g) as explained by their website is to:

“Allow state and local officers to act as a force multiplier in the identification, arrest, and service of warrants and detainers of incarcerated foreign-born individuals with criminal charges or convictions. Those deemed amenable to removal are identified while still secure in state or local custody, potentially reducing the time the alien spends in ICE custody.”

Sheriff McFadden made it known upon taking control of Mecklenburg County Sheriffs Office that he was not interested in assisting ICE with the 287(g) programs.

According to multiple news outlets, McFadden argued that no voluntary program should be considered and viewed as mandatory by ICE, and that the promise to eliminate this voluntary program participation was a promise he ran on during his election for Sheriff.

McFadden told reporters in a news statement in December of 2018:

“Today I’m ending ICE’s 287(g) program in Mecklenburg County and joining the majority of police and sheriff departments around the country who have declined to do ICE’s bidding because it erodes trust with our community and ties up critical resources that should be used to ensure public safety.”

Currently McFadden is being publicly ridiculed by ICE for multiple incidents of releasing illegal immigrants on bail without holding them with ICE detailers. 

The first incident involved the release of a Honduran national, who is in the country illegally, after he was charged with multiple serious crimes.

Luis Pineda-Anchecta who, according to Fox New 46, was first arrested at the start of May for domestic violence charges. It is reported that he made bail shortly after being taken into custody. 

However, Pineda-Ancheta’s freedom did not last long, and he was accused of committing other crimes. According to reports, when police attempted to take Pineda-Achecta into custody later in May for charges including- kidnapping, strangulation, and assault on a female- the arrest resulting in a 9 hour stand off with police. 

According to WCNC news, after the standoff ended and Pineda-Achecta was taken into custody, but able to post bail within two days of being arrested.

More details on that particular case below.

Pineda-Achecta was eventually taken into custody by ICE, as reported by WCNC news, ICE made a statement that:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested unlawfully present Honduran national Luis Pineda-Anchecta during a targeted enforcement operation in Charlotte June 2 following his release from local criminal custody after the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office refused to honor an ICE detainer, nor even notify ICE of his release, and instead released an unlawfully present foreign national facing serious criminal charges onto the streets of Charlotte.

Mr. Pineda-Anchecta now faces federal felony prosecution for illegally reentering the U.S. after deportation. After the resolution of that federal prosecution he is subject to removal again to Honduras.”

In August, Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office released another Honduran national who is in the country illegally and most recently arrested on charges of child rape. Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo, was released from the Sheriff’s office, after they refused to honor the ICE retainer.  

It took nearly two months for ICE to track down and take Pacheco-Leonardo back into their custody.

As reported by multiple news agencies, Atlanta ICE Field Office Director Sean Gallagher made a public statement:

“This is yet another example of a clear public safety threat being released onto the streets of Mecklenburg County rather than into ICE custody due to the current sheriff’s policy on ICE non-cooperation.”

Business and Politics online reported that Gallagher also explained in his public statement:

“The Mecklenburg County sheriff’s decision to restrict cooperation with ICE serves as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that Mecklenburg County is a safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities, and residents of Mecklenburg County are less safe today than last year due these policies.”

It is reported that there are over 20 incidents of the Sheriff’s office not assisting or honoring retainer agreements. 

Although ICE is publicly ridiculing Sheriff McFadden’s not to honor ICE detainers, the Sheriff is not backing down stating to reporting:

“Bonds are not set by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, We do not have any part of the bonds being set, and we do not have any part of the magistrate releasing these individuals.”

Sources say that McFadden has no intention even now of supporting the voluntarily detainer program through ICE. 

Here are the details of the Ancheta case, as reported in May:

 

Deputies ended up in a nine hour standoff thanks to McFadden refusing to cooperate with ICE.

It happened after a man who was arrested and sent to jail for a domestic violence charge was released from police custody on bond, despite the fact that ICE officials had placed a detainer on him.

Just days later, that same suspect led authorities in a 9-hour standoff – allegedly involving the same victim and the same charges.

Luis Pineda-Ancheta, 37, was identified as the suspect by authorities. 

The city is experiencing shifting issues over cooperation with immigration enforcement officials, and this case puts the problem right on display.

WBTV reported that the issue lies with the sheriff – an elected official.

“Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden effectively stopped collaborating with federal authorities on immigration enforcement, including on honoring detainers, following his election in November,” their report noted. 

Sheriff Garry McFadden refuses to cooperate with ICE officials. (Facebook)

 

Police attempted to serve Pineda-Ancheta with multiple warrants concerning domestic violence charges. Authorities said that the suspect barricaded himself inside an apartment and refused to come out.

A SWAT team was called in to end the standoff, which lasted a total of 9 hours before police were able to take the suspect into custody.

Pineda-Ancheta’s original charges were listed as assault on a female, communicating threats, felony larceny, simple assault and injury to personal property, according to jail records. ICE put a detainer on him the following day, and he was released from jail one day later, on May 17.

Police say he committed another domestic assault against the same woman on May 21st, which led to the standoff.

So why was Pineda-Ancheta allowed to be released back into the community?

“When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission,” said Sean Gallagher, an official with ICE.

 

Immigration officials had warned that the sheriff’s office decision would create a risk for public safety by releasing criminals back on the street. This case proves their warning.

Since McFadden issued his policy of noncooperation with ICE, the sheriff’s office has ignored detainer requests. Prior to McFadden taking office, the county was cooperating with officials, leading to over 15,000 undocumented individuals being entered into deportation proceedings. 

Advocates for immigration reform argue that McFadden’s approach creates stronger trust between the public and law enforcement.

Others criticized his motives, referring t0 Mecklenburg as a “safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities.”

Pineda-Ancheta, a native of Honduras, has reportedly been deported from the U.S. before. He now faces additional charges of assault by strangulation, kidnapping, assault on a female, communicating threats and violation of a domestic violence protective order, according to jail records.

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