- The Washington Times - Friday, November 15, 2019

Immigration officials have tied a third murder arrest in two months to sanctuary city policies in the Seattle area, saying an immigrant who was twice shielded from deportation by King County slew a man “as he lay asleep in his own home.”

The man Julio Cruz-Velazquez, who is in the U.S. illegally, is accused of killing, Sam Nang Lam. Mr. Lam had immigrated to the U.S. legally, according to authorities Friday.

Cruz-Velazquez has an extensive rap sheet that includes charges of second-degree rape last year — later pleaded down to second-degree assault. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asked to be notified upon his release from jail so he could be deported, but King County refused, ICE said.

Out in the community, he was arrested again on Jan. 4 for drunken driving, and ICE again asked to be notified. The agency says that request, too, was refused by King County Jail.

He also has a domestic violence conviction and has faced charges of robbery, drug possession and possession of a stolen vehicle, ICE says, but local authorities failed each time to notify ICE that he was in custody, and the agency was unable to even make a detainer request.

“Local law enforcement officials failed the public in this case on multiple occasions,” said Nathalie Asher, director of ICE’s deportation operations in Seattle. “Because of this recklessness, a man who immigrated legally to the U.S. has lost his life, allegedly at the hands of a repeat criminal and immigration offender.”

ICE says immigrants who are shielded by sanctuary policies most often victimize fellow immigrants in their own communities.

Local press reports said Cruz-Velazquez, who goes by the street name “Chunks,” was trying to buy drugs at a house and when he was unable to do so, pulled a gun and began to spray bullets.

Some of those bullets struck the neighboring home of Lam, who wasn’t involved in the drug transaction and was in fact trying to fall asleep on his living room couch, authorities said.

Police tied Cruz-Velazquez to the killing through shell casings, The Seattle Times reported.

Alex Fryer, a spokesman for King County Executive Dow Constantine, defended the sanctuary policy and blasted federal immigration officials for highlighting the murders.

“ICE is now on a public relations offensive against jurisdictions that follow the rule of law, alerting the media to instances when agents send civil immigration detainers that are prohibited by county policy,” Mr. Fryer said.

He said the county will release illegal immigrants to ICE if the agency obtains a criminal warrant from a federal district judge.

That is impossible given the way immigration law works, ICE says.

The Cruz-Velazquez case is the third arrest that ICE has tied to the Seattle area’s sanctuary policies since the beginning of October.

Last month, prosecutors charged Carlos Orlando Iraheta-Vega with a vicious gang slaying, saying Mr. Iraheta-Vega, an MS-13 member, bashed in the head of a 16-year-old friend, before helping a fellow gang member use a machete to carve up the boy’s body.

Those charges came a week after authorities charged Carlos Daniel Carillo-Lopez with being part of a murder posse that killed a teen after his girlfriend posted an online photo of herself making signs for a rival gang.

Both Mr. Iraheta-Vega and Mr. Carillo-Lopez sneaked into the U.S. as juveniles and were deemed Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), which qualified them for lenient treatment under U.S. law, earning quick release to sponsors in the community.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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