Jason Hopkins on October 31, 2019
- Marvin Ramirez Torres, an illegal alien convicted of indecent liberties with a child, was released from custody in Buncombe County, North Carolina, despite an ICE detainer request.
- Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller, a newly elected Democrat, announced in early 2019 that he would no longer honor ICE detainer requests.
- In the past year, local authorities across North Carolina have ignored hundreds of ICE detainers on illegal aliens convicted of heinous crimes, such as homicide, sex offenses, assault and other crimes.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement lodged a detainer for an illegal alien convicted of sexually abusing a child, but a North Carolina sheriff chose to ignore the request and released the child molester instead.
Authorities initially arrested Marvin Ramirez Torres, a Salvadoran national living illegally in the U.S., in April 2017 for an outstanding warrant for “indecent liberties” with a young girl, according to an ICE press release Wednesday. The victim was 11 years old at the time the abuse took place.
Ramirez Torres, 26, was ultimately convicted of indecent liberties with a minor in North Carolina Superior Court for Buncombe County Tuesday, and was ordered to register as a sex offender, according to ICE. Although a judge sentenced him to 16-29 months for the felony offense, he received credit for the two years he already served in Buncombe County Jail, allowing him to be released the following day.
Before Ramirez Torrez was released, ICE lodged a detainer with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office in order to make an apprehension. However, Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller did not honor the request and did not notify the agency when the illegal alien was released.
ICE blasted Miller’s decision to release a convicted sex offender back into the community.
“This is yet another example of a clear public safety threat being released into North Carolina communities rather than into ICE custody due to local sheriff policies on ICE non-cooperation,” acting ICE Director Matt Albence said in a prepared statement Wednesday.
“Continued decisions to refuse cooperation with ICE serve as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that these counties are a safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities, and residents of Buncombe County are less safe due to these misguided sanctuary policies,” Albence continued.
ICE agents apprehended Ramirez Torres Wednesday. ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations deportation officers, along with Homeland Security Investigations agents, arrested him outside a local courthouse when he arrived to register as a sex offender.
The release of Ramirez Torres marked the latest incident between Miller and federal immigration authorities. Voters first elected Miller, a Democrat, as Buncombe County sheriff in November 2018. He announced he would not honor ICE detainer requests in early 2019.
“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,” the sheriff said in February.
Miller, like many other ICE opponents, argues the agency must obtain a criminal arrest warrant in order for his office to hand over an individual in his custody. However, ICE says that such warrants do not exist for a federal agents trying to apprehend foreign nationals believed to be living in the U.S. illegally — a civil immigration matter.
“Under the Immigration and Nationality Act as passed by Congress, ICE detainers, removal orders issued by federal immigration judges, and ICE immigration enforcement in general, is conducted under civil law The ‘judicial warrant’ demanded by the sheriff only applies to criminal cases and does not exist for civil law matters,” ICE said in its Wednesday press release.
Buncombe County’s policy toward federal immigration offenses is reflective of other localities in the state. Local authorities ignored more than 500 ICE detainer requests across North Carolina throughout the 2019 fiscal year, according to the agency. Among those released were illegal aliens convicted of homicide, sex offenses, burglary, assault and DUI.
The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment.