U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has again criticized a Colorado law after an inmate who was wanted by ICE was released on bail in late October, only to be arrested weeks later on attempted murder charges.
But local law enforcement say the new law had little effect on their handling of the case and federal officials had been notified about the inmate’s release, giving ICE the chance to take custody of a suspect who the agency claims is in the country illegally.
The Colorado law in question was enacted in May and bars law enforcement officials in the state from holding a person based only on a request from ICE — commonly called an immigration detainer.
It’s a practice that ICE says aids federal immigration enforcement and benefits public safety, but detainers are controversial and have been challenged as unconstitutional.
Detainer requests typically ask law enforcement agencies to give ICE at least 48 hours’ notice before a suspected immigrant is released from a jail — or to hold the person for up to 48 hours after they would normally be released.
In its latest criticism, ICE says law enforcement in Colorado followed the state’s law and ignored a federal detainer on an inmate, releasing him on bond as planned despite ICE’s request to hold him longer.
That inmate was soon allegedly involved in a violent crime, which ICE believes could have been prevented had Colorado law allowed local law enforcement to honor immigration detainers.
Local officials, however, say it has been a longstanding policy to not honor immigration detainers and the new law did not impact this case. They also say federal immigration officials were told of the inmate’s imminent release two-and-a-half hours before he was freed.
The case involves Osmani Garces-Ortiz — 37, who emigrated from Cuba. Garces-Ortiz was in custody in late October at the Arapahoe County Jail, located about 15 miles southeast of Denver on several charges including drug possession and criminal trespassing, according to a release from ICE.
Garces-Ortiz was freed on bond four days after ICE placed a detainer on him, ICE says.
Vince Line, bureau chief of detention administration for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, said immigration officials had time to pick up the inmate before he was released. An ICE facility is located nearby the jail, Line said.
A statement from ICE spokeswoman Alethea Smock says a “notification that an alien is about to be released to the lobby is not a functional way to ensure transfer of custody.”
A statement from ICE says Arapahoe County followed state law in its handling of the case.
Weeks after his release, Garces-Ortiz was arrested by the Aurora Police Department for offenses that occurred Nov. 17, according to documents provided by police. Those alleged offenses included attempted murder, assault and violation of a bail bond.
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