Alleging the New York Department of Corrections is failing to cooperate with their enforcement efforts, immigration officials have served four subpoenas demanding information on “multiple illegal aliens” arrested in New York City.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is seeking information on individuals who were previously in state custody, as well as one individual, Reeaz Khan, who is being held in the alleged murder of a 92-year-old woman.
Khan was arrested January 10 and charged with murder, sexual abuse and contact by forcible compulsion. CNN has reached out to his attorney.
“Make no mistake, it is this city’s sanctuary policies that are the sole reason that this criminal was allowed to roam the streets freely and end an innocent woman’s life,” acting ICE Director Matthew Albence said at a Friday news conference.
Immigration officials were forced to issue the subpoenas because “the NYDOC has continued to ignore ICE’s requests for information and cooperation,” ICE said in a statement.
Mayor’s office: Existing policy works
ICE describes Khan as a 21-year-old unlawfully present Guyanese national who was previously released from custody in November, despite ICE having lodged a detainer against him.
A detainer is a request that local law enforcement keep undocumented immigrants in custody for up to 48 hours so they can be transferred into federal immigration custody and deported.
The state DOC referred questions to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, and the mayor’s spokeswoman suggested the move by ICE is political.
“New York City will not change the policies that have made us the safest big city in America,” Freddi Goldstein told CNN, “and (President Donald Trump’s) administration’s attempts to exploit this tragedy are absolutely shameful. We will review the subpoena once we receive it.”
For the city to comply with a detainer, she said, a person must be convicted of one of the 177 crimes the city designates as a violent or serious felony.
New York City does not turn over prisoners who are awaiting trial, Goldstein said, but once a defendant is proven guilty of committing one of the specially designated crimes, the city then reviews and cooperates with detainer requests.
“As a 25-year law enforcement professional, it is unbelievable that I have to come here to plea with the city of New York to cooperate with us to help keep this city safe,” Albence said Friday. “Unfortunately, it is not a new battle.”
Of Khan’s alleged victim, he said, “One simple phone call, and Maria Fuertes could be alive today.”
Khan freed weeks before alleged murder
Police found Fuertes on January 6, lying in the street unconscious and unresponsive. She was taken to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Khan is accused of approaching Fuertes from behind, assaulting her and knocking her to the ground, where she sustained trauma to her neck and back, according to a New York Police Department news release.
During his Friday arraignment, Khan offered conflicting accounts of what happened to Fuertes, according to The New York Times. Prosecutors said Khan initially told detectives that Fuertes had fallen and he had tried to help her stand up, but then admitted to sexually assaulting her, the newspaper reported.
ICE issued a detainer for Khan after his November 27 arrest for assault and criminal possession of a weapon, according to Albence, who released a fax showing the request dated the same day.
NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie denied ICE’s assertion, saying, “At that time, the NYPD did not receive an ICE detainer in regard to this individual.”
A judge, not the city, later ordered Khan released, Goldstein said.
“Sanctuary city” is a broad term used for jurisdictions that have policies in place designed to limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement actions.
Cities, counties and some states have informal policies — and sometimes, laws — that qualify as sanctuary positions. Many of the nation’s largest cities have some form of sanctuary policy.
In a Saturday news release, ICE said it “has not historically needed to use its lawful authority to issue these subpoenas to obtain information from other law enforcement agencies as most law enforcement agencies throughout the country willingly provide ICE with information regarding aliens arrested for crimes in the interest of public safety.”