- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2016

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they fully intend to take custody of the man previously convicted of Chandra Levy’s murder for deportation proceedings, despite policies on the books in Washington, D.C., that limit the city jail’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

D.C. prosecutors announced Thursday that they were dropping charges and would not retry Ingmar Guandique, who was convicted in 2010 of the Washington intern’s 2001 murder. The illegal Salvadoran immigrant was granted a new trial after defense attorneys raised doubts about the testimony of a star witness in the case — jailhouse informant Armando Morales.

With the U.S. Attorney’s Office declining to go forward with a retrial of Guandique, he would otherwise be released from the D.C. Department of Corrections if he was not taken into custody by ICE.

The District is among more than 300 so-called sanctuary cities in the United States where officials have adopted policies that protect illegal immigrants by letting local authorities decline to share information about immigration status with federal agencies. But ICE officials say they currently have an immigration detainer against Guandique and are awaiting his transfer into federal custody.

“Based on yesterday’s court action, Ingmar Guandique will enter the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and be issued a notice to appear in immigration court,” said ICE spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell in a statement issued Friday. “Due to his previous criminal convictions, he is considered a threat to public safety, and ICE intends to maintain him in custody.”

Levy, 24, disappeared May 1, 2001, after leaving her apartment in jogging clothes. The Modesto, California, native’s remains were found in 2002 in a heavily wooded area of Rock Creek Park.

Guandique was charged in her death in 2009 just as he was close to completing a jail sentence for assaults on two joggers who had been attacked in Rock Creek Park. During the trial, prosecutors drew parallels to the two other women Guandique attacked at about the same time that Levy went missing.

D.C. Jail spokeswoman Sylvia Lane confirmed Friday afternoon that Guandique is still in the jail’s custody. It was not clear when he would be turned over to ICE officials.

Online records from the D.C. Superior Court indicate that a release order was filed for Guandique Friday afternoon.

Among the immigration procedures on the books at the D.C. Jail, Department of Corrections employees are instructed “not inquire about a person’s immigration status or contact the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the purpose of initiating civil enforcement of immigration proceedings that have no nexus to a criminal investigation.”

When immigration detainers have been filed for inmates who are not otherwise detained by a criminal justice agency, the Department of Corrections “shall not maintain custody of the inmate.” However the jail’s inmate records staff are instructed to notify ICE that an inmate is eligible for release in cases in which a detainer has been filed and the inmate’s sentence has expired or a court has ordered the inmate’s release.

In order to be deported back to El Salvador, Guandique will have to go through immigration court proceedings. ICE officials plan to hold him in custody while those proceedings take place.

It was not clear how long the removal proceedings would take.

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