Five Rape Arrests Underscore the Hypocrisy of Sanctuary Policies

Only provide sanctuary to criminals, not victims

By Andrew R. Arthur on August 30, 2019

Editor's Note: Since this blog was published, a sixth illegal alien was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl in Montgomery County, Md., in addition to a separate incident where an illegal alien is accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl.

I wrote earlier this month about two illegal immigrants who had been arrested in Montgomery County, Md., on charges of raping an 11-year-old girl shortly after County Executive Marc Elrich (D) signed a sweeping executive order captioned "Promoting Community Trust". Press reports now indicate that those immigrants were two of five illegal immigrants who have been arrested on rape charges in Montgomery County in the last few weeks, including one in a case charging forcible rape of a 16-year-old with a knife. Those cases expose the dangers of sanctuary policies, and the hypocrisy of those who peddle them.

The executive order in question bars ICE from non-public areas in the Montgomery County Jail (that is, where the criminals are kept), and bars ICE from access to interview aliens who are being detained by Montgomery County.

Among the highlights:

  • It bars compliance with immigration detainers that are not accompanied by judicial warrants. Judicial warrants are never issued in immigration cases, so this prevents Montgomery County police from detaining dangerous criminals after their local release until ICE can take custody of them.
  • Montgomery County Police are barred from arresting illegal aliens based on an administrative warrant or an immigration detainer, or based on the fact that the alien entered illegally or is removable. So if the police run a rap sheet and find that an alien is under an order of deportation, they cannot arrest the alien on the basis that the alien is wanted by ICE.
  • If Montgomery County police receive a request to detain or notify ICE regarding a criminal alien, the alien must be notified about that request within 48 hours. Where such request is in writing, the alien must be given a copy of the request.

Shortly after that executive order was issued, local television station WJLA reported on the county executive's attitude toward ICE and immigration enforcement under Donald Trump:

Elrich opined that the mandate will strengthen trust and safety within the county of nearly 1.1 million residents.

"If ICE thinks it's really important, they can probably get here. You know, they've got cars. They know where the jail is. They know where the pre-release center is. ... It's not my job to do that part of their job," Elrich stated with a slight grin on his face. "If ICE manages to be outside the [jail] door when someone walks outside the door, I can't do anything about that, but if they ask us on anything other than a judicial order, then we're not holding them."

Elrich further explained that President Donald Trump's directives to ICE have discernable parallels to terrorism.

"It's really partly the definition of terrorism, to take the civilian population and subject them to constant fear, that is terrorism in its basic form," Elrich remarked.

After the high-profile case involving the aliens charged with raping an 11-year-old girl, Montgomery County claimed that there were "exceptions" where ICE can (possibly) have access to the county jail and the county will notify ICE about a release where an alien was charged with one "serious" crime. To be a "serious crime", it apparently must be a felony under Maryland state law, a high standard to meet.

Even then, there is no indication that Montgomery County will hold any alien who has been charged past the time that alleged criminal would be released by the county.

Despite this policy, Montgomery County released an alien charged with second-degree rape on August 13. Officers called one off-duty ICE agent about that alien's release and left a message, but reportedly failed to call the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center as directed on the detainer. The LESC, in Williston, Vt., is open 24/7, and would have ensured that that alien would have been placed into immigration custody.

Among County Executive Elrich's "visions" are:

A More Affordable and Welcoming County
We will focus on initiatives that make Montgomery County a place where all residents can pursue their dreams regardless of race, ethnicity, age or economic circumstances.

Safe Neighborhoods
We will address crime and pedestrian safety issues and seek input from communities across the county on ways to address these issues. We plan to enhance opportunities for walking, biking, and creating neighborhood gathering places.

If the charges are true, these cases show that he is failing to meet his own goals. As a former prosecutor and immigration judge, I know that crimes like rape not only inflict injury but also seek to deprive victims of their dignity, and leave scars that never heal. Progressives in Montgomery County, from the county executive on down, have failed in their essential duty to protect the ability of the truly vulnerable, including at least one child and one teenager, to "pursue their dreams" by failing to do everything they can to "address crime".

Simply put, sanctuary laws like those in Montgomery County only protect criminals. As WJLA reported, Frank Madrigal, the deputy director of ICE's Baltimore Field Office (which has jurisdiction over Montgomery County) has "stresse[d] that their focus is on undocumented immigrants with ties to serious crime/s, not those who are abiding by the laws of the land." Needless to say, this is not consistent with the agency's mandate to remove all aliens who are in violation of the immigration laws and ineligible for immigration benefits, but it accurately reflects the priorities ICE must adopt, given the limited resources Congress has provided it.

In seven years as an INS prosecutor and eight as an immigration judge, I don't recall one alien who was placed into removal proceedings because he or she was the victim of a crime. In fact, many crime victims who are illegally present are actually eligible for immigration protection, in the form of a nonimmigrant visa that will allow them to live and work here legally. "Progressives" never mention those protections when criticizing the administration's immigration policies.

One point that is usually overlooked is the fact that sanctuary laws fall hardest on members of immigrant communities. Many if not most of these alien criminals live, and commit their crimes in, those communities. By turning vicious criminals back out on the street, Montgomery County allows them to prey on all residents, and in particular other immigrants, making those immigrants less safe, not more.

Finally, those laws endanger ICE agents, members of the public, and the alien criminals themselves, because agents must make arrests in uncontrolled situations in public places, unlike jails, where the public is excluded and criminals have been checked for weapons.

Again, these laws only provide sanctuary to criminals, not to victims and not to two girls who, police charged, have had their innocence stolen from them.

The five accused are:

  • Kevin Mendoza, 26, illegally in the United States from Honduras. Charged with stalking, strangling, and raping a woman near her apartment building in Silver Spring on August 16. WJLA reported:

    Shortly before midnight on Aug. 16, the victim was walking through the apartment parking lot carrying items from her car when she noticed Mendoza following her. As the woman tried to unlock the door to the apartment building — located along the 8500 block of 16th Street — Mendoza allegedly grabbed her from behind and threw her to the ground.

    When the woman tried to yell, police say Mendoza strangled her with his hands ... nearly to the point of unconsciousness. When the woman tried to escape, Mendoza allegedly hit her in the face and head, and then raped her.

  • Nelson Saul Reyes-Medrano, 46, illegally in the United States from El Salvador. Reyes-Medrano is alleged to have crawled into the bed of a 16-year-old girl in Germantown in August 2018 while she was taking a nap and placed a knife against her throat before proceeding to rape her, according to authorities.
  • Mauricio Barrera-Navidad, now 29, illegally in the United States from El Salvador. Charged with raping a then-11-year-old victim in a bedroom at a trailer park in Germantown in July 2018. Under a final order of removal since December 2016.
  • Carlos Palacios-Amaya, now 28, illegally in the United States from El Salvador. Palacio-Amaya is charged with raping the same 11-year-old girl on numerous occasions on or after September 2018, including one act he allegedly filmed. He was removed from the United States in 2014 and entered at some point illegally.
  • Rodrigo Castro-Montejo, 25, illegally in the United States from El Salvador. Castro-Montejo was arrested August 10 on charges of second-degree rape and second-degree assault (apparently in Rockville). He allegedly assaulted a female friend after a night of heavy drinking, according to court documents. Montgomery County District Court Judge Rand Gelber granted him a $10,000 bond, of which he had to post 10 percent. According to court records, he left the jail the next day "after a Silver Spring woman paid $1,000 surety on his behalf." That occurred on August 13, after Montgomery County officials left a message with an off-duty ICE agent about Castro-Montejo's release, but before those officials actually spoke to anyone from ICE.