An illegal alien charged with raping a child was released by New York City authorities because of the city’s sanctuary policies, but federal immigration agents were able to arrest him shortly afterward.
Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday arrested Miguel Federico Ajqui-Ajtzalam, 20, an illegal alien from Guatemala, according to a press release from the agency.
Ajqui-Ajtzalam had been in New York Police Department custody on charges of raping a person under the age of 14, but local authorities did not honor the ICE detainer lodged against him, and chose instead to release him.
“It’s inconceivable that a individual who was arrested for local charges of rape and sexual abuse of a child would be released back into the community instead of being transferred to ICE, who had a detainer in place,” ICE spokesman Thomas Decker said in a written statement Tuesday.
“It’s frightening that our detainer was ignored and he was released onto New York City streets to possibly reoffend,” Decker said. “The safety of city residents, especially the more vulnerable, continues to be a priority for ICE enforcement.”
Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence wrote a letter to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in February, hoping to begin a conversation on how the Democratic mayor and ICE could work together to keep residents of New York City safe.
However, ICE agents say, de Blasio has not attempted to engage them in any meaningful dialogue.
Ajqui-Ajtzalam’s run-in with U.S. authorities dates back several years.
The Guatemalan national was arrested by the Border Patrol in September 2016 after entering the country illegally, officials said. As a minor, he was processed as an unaccompanied alien child and released from ICE custody the following month under an order of recognizance.
It was not immediately clear where on the U.S. border he was found, or if he ever was ordered deported.
New York police arrested Ajqui-Ajtzalam on Feb. 27 on charges of felony rape in the second degree, sexual abuse in the second degree for sexual contact with a person under 14, and acting in a manner to injure a child under 17, according to ICE.
Federal immigration authorities immediately lodged a detainer asking local law enforcement to hold him in order for ICE to assume custody, but that detainer was ignored, the agency said.
The Guatemalan eventually was arraigned and released from the custody of the New York City Department of Correction.
Agents with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations located and arrested Ajqui-Ajtzalam on Monday. He remains in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.
The incident marks the latest in the public relations war between New York City authorities and ICE.
New York City touts a strict sanctuary policy prohibiting law enforcement officials from cooperating with ICE agents. This includes a ban on honoring detainer requests.
Such policies have resulted in deadly consequences for residents, including the brutal rape and murder of a 92-year-old woman allegedly perpetrated by an illegal alien who previously was released by city authorities despite an ICE detainer.
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