- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is thinking about revising his executive order banning federal agents from secured areas of the county jail following its release of an illegal immigrant charged with rape for whom immigration enforcement officers had issued a detainer.

Mr. Elrich, a Democrat, said Tuesday during a press conference that he intends to “look into” changing the section of the Promoting Community Trust executive order he signed last month that prohibits Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from entering the secured part of the jail to retrieve detainees.

As it stands now, immigrants have to exit the secure part of the jail into the lobby area or parking lot before ICE officials can take custody of them.

“There are questions people have raised not just about the safety of the ICE officials but the safety of anybody else who might be out there [in the lobby area],” the county executive said.

Mr. Elrich said his executive order is merely continuing the previous administration’s policy for the county’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, which notifies ICE when an immigrant is released via a court order.

Rodrigo Castro-Montejo, 25, of El Salvador, was detained Aug. 11 after being charged with second-degree rape and second-degree assault of a woman at a hotel in Rockville.

The next day, ICE issued a detainer to the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (DOCR), and the court set Mr. Castro-Montejo’s bail, which he posted.

On Aug. 13, DOCR officials contacted ICE to notify them six hours before Mr. Castro-Montejo’s release.

ICE requests to be notified as soon as possible about a release or at least 48 hours in advance.

“I resent this notion they need 48 hours notice. There’s only one jail in Montgomery County. We’re an hour’s drive from Baltimore. The idea that they can’t get here is ludicrous,” Mr. Elrich said.

ICE confirmed in a statement that DOCR tried to contact an off-duty officer who was traveling outside the area. It added that it directs local officials in its detainers to contact the Law Enforcement Support Center, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, “ensuring there are no breakdowns in good-faith communication efforts.”

Mr. Elrich said it is not the county government’s responsibility to determine when someone is released from jail but the responsibility of the courts.

“County police and our Correction and Rehabilitation departments are not authorized to detain someone based on an ICE detainer since it is not a judicial warrant, and no court has directed corrections to detain people beyond their release date,” Mr. Elrich said in a statement, adding that the county is following the legal guidance of Maryland’s attorney general.

ICE officials have said they also send with a detainer an administrative arrest warrant, which a judge does not need to sign. It gives local law enforcement the authority to detain immigrants for up to 48 hours so that ICE can assume custody of them.

“The public has been misled to believe that certain judges have the authority to sign a warrant for civil immigration violations, but no such judicial authority exists,” said ICE spokeswoman Justine Whelan. “This idea is a myth created by those who either oppose immigration enforcement efforts, are misinformed, or who do not understand how the immigration system works.”

Christoper Hajec, director of litigation at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, said the country has been using administrative warrants to detain illegal immigrants since 1790.

“You don’t have a right to be in the country in the first place, so the Fourth Amendment doesn’t really apply,” Mr. Hajec said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide