Sanctuary State Releases Unlicensed Illegal Immigrant Who Killed Boy, Injured Grandma
Less than a year after New Jersey’s Attorney General issued a directive making it an official sanctuary state, local police released an illegal immigrant who hit a grandmother and her two grandchildren while driving without a license. One of the children, a 7-year-old boy, was killed and the grandmother was critically injured. Nevertheless, the local law enforcement agency that arrested and charged the driver, 30-year-old Mexican national Jorge Rodriguez-Saldana, let him go.
Fortunately, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) caught up to the illegal immigrant in another state and now he’s in federal custody. Federal agents arrested Rodriguez-Saldana in Horsham, Pennsylvania for immigration violations even though New Jersey protected him. “Unfortunately, this is another example that makes apparent the significant public safety concerns the NJ AG Directive limiting cooperation with ICE poses,” said ICE Newark field director John Tsoukaris in a statement issued by the agency this week. “Had it not been for the persistent, courageous and diligent efforts of ICE-ERO to track him down, this individual might have fled. We will continue to make public safety our highest priority despite dangerous state policies.”
The tragedy occurred earlier this month in Egg Harbor City. The grandmother and her two grandchildren were crossing a highway called White Horse Pike when Rodriguez-Saldana’s westbound vehicle struck them. The boy died at the scene and the grandmother was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, according to a local news report that attributes the information to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. The second child was not injured. The illegal immigrant was charged with a fatal motor vehicle crash and driving without a license by the Egg Harbor Township Police yet was released under bizarre state guidelines that recommend no detention for those charges. Because New Jersey is an illegal alien sanctuary, all of the state’s 36,000 law enforcement officers are banned from notifying federal immigration officials when suspects in the U.S. illegally are arrested or charged for local crimes. The rule also applies to prosecutors, corrections officers and other public employees.
Here are highlights of the sanctuary measure, known as Immigrant Trust Directive, issued in late 2018 by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. It says all levels of law enforcement cannot stop, question, arrest, search, or detain any individual based solely on actual or suspected immigration status; Cannot ask the immigration status of any individual, unless doing so is necessary to the ongoing investigation of a serious offense and relevant to the offense under investigation; Cannot participate in civil immigration enforcement operations conducted by ICE; Cannot provide ICE with access to state or local law enforcement resources, including equipment, office space, databases, or property, unless those resources are readily available to the public; Cannot allow ICE to interview an individual arrested on a criminal charge unless that person is advised of his or her right to a lawyer.
Gurbir, who acted in concert with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, said the rules are designed to strengthen trust between state law enforcement officers and New Jerseys diverse immigrant communities. Local police chiefs and county prosecutors celebrated in a statement announcing the implementation of the statewide sanctuary policy. “This enhanced directive will serve as a road map for all Newark police officers to treat people fairly and impartially, no matter what their immigration status is, while enforcing the laws of our state,” said Newark Police Director Anthony F. Ambrose. The Mercer County Prosecutor, Angelo J. Onofri, said he was “grateful for the opportunity to work with the Attorney General’s Office on an issue as important as building up trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.” Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez reminded that immigrants are “the historic backbone of our country.”
The reality is that sanctuary policies shield dangerous criminals and endanger communities, even those with large immigrant populations. Local governments that offer illegal immigrants sanctuary have long defied federal orders by releasing criminal aliens—rather than turn them over for deportation—incarcerated for state crimes. In one recent year alone, ICE reported that sanctuary jurisdictions protected nearly 12,000 criminal illegal immigrants throughout the U.S. During that period more than 17,000 federal detainers were rejected by the sanctuary jurisdictions and around 11,800, or 68%, were issued for individuals with a prior criminal history. In the last few years however, some local governments have taken it a huge step further by actually passing local measures to help illegal immigrants charged with local crimes escape federal custody. New Jersey took it up a notch by making it a statewide mandate.
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