Will the Rittenhouse Square illegal alien rape suspect cause Mayor Nutter to reconsider his order limiting Philadelphia’s cooperation with ICE?

Philadelphia police are charging an illegal immigrant from Honduras with rape, burglary, and other offenses related to the June 22 attack on a 26-year old woman in her Rittenhouse Square apartment. Milton Mateo Garcia, a/k/a Milton Garcia-Vazquez, was reported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to have been previously deported from the United States in June 2013.

That this deportee was able to illegally re-enter the United States and gain employment at three Philadelphia restaurants for several months is evidence of how open our borders are to illegal entry, as record numbers of unaccompanied minors, children, demonstrate that it’s literally child’s play to enter the United States illegally. It is evidence of how easily illegal immigrants are able to take jobs from U.S. citizens and help employers hold down wages for American workers.

Protecting the nation from illegal immigration is a federal responsibility shared by ICE and other federal agencies. When ICE learns that a state or local agency is holding an alien ICE is seeking to remove from the U.S., ICE issues a detainer requesting that the alien be held up to 48 hours, rather than released, so ICE can confirm the alien’s identity and take custody of the alien for removal from the United States. ICE has issued a detainer against Milton Mateo Garcia.

But on April 16, 2014, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter signed an executive order directing city officials to refuse to honor ICE detainers unless all of four conditions are satisfied: First, the individual must have been convicted of a crime. Not just charged with a crime, however serious, but convicted of a crime. Second, the criminal conviction must be for a felony. Third, the felony must have involved violence. And fourth, and most importantly, there must be an outstanding judicial warrant for the detention.

So if Garcia is able to escape the charges against him, perhaps through a technicality like a defective warrant for the search of his residence, or a flawed Miranda warning preceding his confession, Philadelphia police will have to release him onto the street rather than honor the ICE detainer.

Even if Garcia is convicted and sentenced to prison, upon his release Philadelphia police may be unable to detain him for ICE as requested by the detainer. If Mayor Nutter’s executive order remains in effect, Garcia will be released onto the street unless ICE obtains a judicial warrant for the detention by state and local authorities, even though ICE is authorized to execute outstanding removal orders administratively without additional court action.

Of course Mayor Nutter will likely be long gone by the time either of those events happens. His executive order will remain in effect threatening the safety and security of Philadelphians unless reversed by the mayor or his successor. I appeal to Mayor Nutter to reconsider and rescind his executive order of April 16, 2014, and commit the city of Philadelphia to cooperate with ICE in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.

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