A Colorado sheriff's department decision to release an illegal immigrant who is now accused of attempted murder was a "political" decision and a searing indictment against sanctuary city policies, former Acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan said Saturday.
Osmani Garces-Ortiz, 37, was arrested in October in Arapahoe County on trespassing and drug charges, authorities said. ICE said it asked the sheriff's office for a detainer on Garces-Ortiz after he posted bond.
The sheriff's policy, however, is to not hold inmates for extra time unless ICE has a warrant, which follows a state law. Less than a month after being released, Garces-Ortiz was arrested on an attempted murder charge stemming from an assault in which a victim was stabbed, according to USA Today.
Homan, appearing on "Fox & Friends: Weekend" with hosts Ed Henry, Pete Hegseth, and Nicole Saphier, said the crime could have been prevented if ICE had been allowed to take the suspect into custody.
"Sanctuary city policies [are] just ridiculous," he said. "Here's a person who was in the custody of local officials because he was arrested for a crime, so they chose to lock him up and put him in a jail cell, and ICE notified them: 'We want him before you release him.' And, it didn't happen. They didn't honor a detainer."
"And I've read the story," he said. "They were saying, 'Well, there's a legal issue.' There is no legal issue. The detainer's honored by most law enforcement agencies across the country. This is a political decision -- not a legal decision."
Garces-Ortiz, a Cuban national, illegally entered the U.S. in 2008 via boat near Key West, Florida, according to ICE. He had previous encounters with immigration officials, and in 2015 he was denied permanent residence in the U.S. due to a criminal history
In a statement released Friday, ICE Denver said that although they were advised of Garces-Ortiz's imminent release, "a notification that an alien is about to be released to the lobby is not a functional way to ensure transfer of custody."
Chief Vince Lane reported that the sheriff's office notified ICE Garces-Ortiz would be released and that "at the time of the inmate's release from custody a legal reason to continue to hold the inmate did not exist."
"Arapahoe Country -- this isn't new for them," Homan said. "They've been a sanctuary jurisdiction for a long time, along with most of Colorado."
"The most recent decision legal on the detainer is out of the Fifth Circuit [U.S. Court of Appeals], and it says detainers are constitutional," he told the "Friends: Weekend" hosts.
Homan said the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department's decision to release Garces-Ortiz was based on an old detainer which "didn't clearly show that they had probable cause to make the arrest."
"The new detainer, [which] has been in place for three years now, has that probable cause statement in the detainer, which makes it a legal document," he explained.
"So again, they have their own attorneys. Their attorneys can certainly look at the Immigration Nationality Act to see detainers are the tool established by Congress within the federal law to take custody of [illegal] aliens within 48 hours," Homan stated.