Illegal immigrant Alejandro Maldonado-Hernandez was allegedly responsible for a July 12 car crash that killed Janace Ator and severely injured her husband Patrick, both of whom were in a different vehicle, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
The Washington County (Oregon) Sheriff's Department said in a news alert that Maldonado-Hernandez was the driver of a car "apparently racing at a high rate of speed" with another car when Maldonado-Hernandez's car hit a third vehicle that had turned on to the road.
Maldonado-Hernandez was taken to a hospital with only minor injuries, ICE said. Authorities arrested him the same day on charges of second-degree felony manslaughter, third-degree felony assault, and misdemeanor reckless driving, the agency said, adding that he was booked into the Washington County jail.
ICE said its officers on July 16 made contact with Maldonado-Hernandez at the jail and lodged an immigration detainer, the agency said.
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Under federal law, ICE has the authority to lodge immigration detainers with law enforcement partners who have custody of individuals arrested on criminal charges and who ICE has probable cause to believe are removable aliens. The detainer form asks the other law enforcement agency to notify ICE in advance of release and to maintain custody of the alien for a brief period of time so that ICE can take custody of that person in a safe and secure setting upon release from that agency's custody. Yet, across the United States, several jurisdictions refuse to honor detainers and instead choose to willingly release criminal offenders back into their local communities where they are free to offend.
But ICE said the jail failed to honor the detainer and on Aug. 8 released Maldonado-Hernandez "back into the community he had previously victimized." He posted bail, the sheriff's department said.
Then on Aug. 27 investigators learned Maldonado-Hernandez fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution with the help of three people, the sheriff's department noted, adding that Ernesto Garcia, 20, Alicia Scardina, 21, and Luis Maldonado-Hernandez, 28, were arrested the next day for hindering prosecution.
“The decision to rebuff immigration detainers and not to hold dangerous individuals until ICE arrives to pick them up is a costly one," Nathalie Asher, Seattle field office director for ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations, said in ICE's report. "There is nothing that should prevent local law enforcement officials from making a simple phone call to notify ICE that a criminal alien is being released. The decision to continue to cite misguided sanctuary laws that allow dangerous criminals back on the streets, and many times the opportunity to flee prosecution, is irresponsible and jeopardizes public safety."
Asher added that it's a "real slap in the face to the victims friends and family" and asked, “How many lives have to be lost before politicians are more concerned about public safety than their own political agendas?"
ICE said Maldonado-Hernandez remains an at-large criminal alien.