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Sanctuary county in N.C. releases illegal alien convicted child molester despite ICE detainer

Local authorities in Buncombe County, North Carolina, released a sex offender who is in the country illegally despite a federal immigration detainer request.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release sent out on Wednesday says that federal officers apprehended Salvadorian national Marvin Ramirez Torres in downtown Asheville, N.C., after he was released by local officials the day before.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Torres was initially charged with four felony counts of statutory sex offense against an 11-year-old victim. Earlier this week, Torres was convicted of felony indecent liberties with a child and sentenced to time served, set for release, and ordered to register as a sex offender.

"The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office then refused to honor the ICE detainer and instead released him back into the community," the release explains, adding that federal officers got Torres outside the courthouse the next day when he showed up to register as a sex offender. Buncombe County Sheriff's Office confirmed the report and said that an ICE detainer doesn't count as a warrant to hold someone for immigration authorities.

“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 statement. “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.”

Back in February, Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller announced that his department would no longer cooperate with federal immigration authorities on detaining illegal aliens already in custody. "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.

At a Wednesday press conference about the release, Andrew Murray, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, blasted the "sheriff's dangerous policy of releasing illegal aliens that have been charged with criminal offenses, and even those that have been convicted of serious criminal offenses, back to the streets of our community."

"It is important to note that they are committing crimes unrelated to their immigration status," Murray added. "By removing these criminals from our streets, we are preventing them from victimizing other men, women and children."

This is just the latest sanctuary story to come out of North Carolina, as the  state has become a battleground of immigration enforcement. In September, ICE reported that some 500 of its detainer requests had been ignored by local officials in under a year. Later that month, the agency reported that officials in Wake County had released an illegal alien sex offender despite a detainer.

In August, ICE said that agents had arrested repeat immigration violator Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo, a 33-year-old Honduran national,  “during a targeted enforcement operation in Mecklenburg County.” The operation occurred “nearly two months after the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office refused to honor an ICE detainer, or even notify ICE of the release, and instead released [Pacheco-Leonardo] from local criminal custody following his arrest on first-degree rape and indecent liberties with a minor charges,” the agency said. Blaze Media later reported that the suspect had come over during the Obama administration and had previously destroyed his GPS ankle monitor, according to federal authorities.

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