Chrstopher Puente, 34, was arrested on Feb. 19 for sexually assaulting a 3-year-old despite ICE's previous request that police continue detaining the previously deported felon. According to a press release on Thursday, Puente had two felony convictions for forced-entry burglary and forgery.
Despite his background, Chicago declined ICE's June 2019 request to detain Puente -- raising more concerns about a jurisdiction already under fire for defying ICE. A CBS affiliate reported that Puente confessed to placing "the child on his lap while he was in a restroom stall, pulled off her pants, and covered her mouth when she started calling out 'daddy daddy.'"
ICE filed an immigration detainer for Puente after his most recent arrest.
The agency reported in January that Cook County, which includes Chicago, denied more than 1,000 detainer requests in fiscal year 2019 alone. Detainers are requests by federal immigration enforcement for local jurisdictions to keep in custody immigrants who have been arrested on criminal charges and are believed to be "removable." Those denials translated into 1,070 criminal aliens and immigration violators getting released.
Chicago police did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment. Robert Guadian, field office director of Chicago Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), blamed what he called "irresponsible lawmaking" for Puentes release.
“How many more victims must there be before lawmakers realize that sanctuary policies do not protect the innocent?” Guadian asked. “Puente should have been in ICE custody last year and removed to his home country. Instead, irresponsible lawmaking allowed him to walk free and prey on our most vulnerable.”
Cook County, which includes Chicago, had previously come under fire from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who threatened to revoke federal funding over its sanctuary status. The Justice Department also sent letters to New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Milwaukee, and New York City.
ICE official Henry Lucero previously warned that Illinois' sanctuary status made it more difficult for federal authorities to track criminals.
“The most concerning issue about working in an area that refuses to cooperate with ICE is not only that we do not know which criminal aliens are being released from custody, but the public doesn’t know either,” he said.
The sanctuary issue has put a long list of states under scrutiny as the administration has blamed local laws for crime against American citizens.
ICE reported earlier this month that hundreds of Orange County Jail inmates on whom the agency had active detainers were re-arrested over the past two years on charges including rape, assault with a deadly weapon and child sex offenses -- after local authorities released them without notifying ICE.
According to county data, officials at the Southern California jail didn't notify ICE when it released 2,121 inmates with detainers on them over 2018 and 2019. Over that same period, another 1,315 were released "to ICE upon completion of their local sentences in accordance with" California's sanctuary regulations laid out in Senate Bill 54, an ICE press release said.