One of the three violent convicts who escaped from a Southern California jail Friday had been ordered deported to his native Vietnam in 1998, but was able to remain in the U.S. and rack up more criminal convictions.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday that Bac Duong, 43, came to the United States legally in 1991 but was ordered removed seven years later after he served time in state prison for a 1997 burglary conviction. However, the Orange County Register reported that Vietnam routinely refused requests from the U.S. to accept Duong and other deportees.
Duong escaped from the Orange County jail on Friday along with Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Hossein Nayeri, 37, by sawing through a quarter-inch thick grill on a dormitory wall and climbing through plumbing tunnels to reach an unguarded area of the roof. There, the men moved aside razor wire and rappelled to the ground using bed linen.
Immigration officials said they took Duong into custody a second time in 2003 and released him the following year. He continued to check in with authorities as required until 2014, the statement said.
In the intervening years, Duong also faced a series of charges involving burglary and drug possession and did stints in state prison. Last year, he was charged with attempted murder and assault in the shooting of a man outside a home in Santa Ana.
Federal officials can't keep immigrants locked up indefinitely while they await deportation. Most must be released after six months, except those accused of posing a terrorist threat or deemed especially dangerous.
In 2008, Vietnam agreed to provide travel documents for deportees, but only those who entered the U.S. since July 1995, eaning it didn't apply to Duong.
Duong's case is is one of thousands involving criminal immigrants who federal authorities want to deport but haven't been able to because their native countries wouldn't take them back.
In 2012, ex-convict Binh Thai Luc was charged with killing five people in San Francisco after Vietnam didn't issue the travel documents needed to repatriate him.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.