An illegal immigrant targeted a woman he previously raped once he was released from custody in Oklahoma after authorities failed to honor an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer request, immigration officials said.
Antonio Ulises Perez, 38, a native of El Salvador, was arrested on Sept. 30 for alleged first-degree rape by the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office, ICE said in a statement. Officials said the agency asked the sheriff's department on Tuesday to transfer custody of Perez to deportation officers in the event he was scheduled to be released.
They refused and Perez was released Wednesday morning, according to ICE.
“Within a few hours of being released, this illegal alien was back at the home of the rape victim where he was free to re-victimize her and harm other members of the community,” said Marc Moore, director of ICE’s Dallas field office.
Deportation officers were able to track Perez down and arrested him later that day, Moore said. He remains in custody pending deportation proceedings.
"Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event," the ICE statement read. "Over the past few months ago [sic], Oklahoma County has routinely failed to honor ICE detainers by releasing criminal aliens back into the local community before ICE has the opportunity to take custody."
Detainers are often used to ask local law enforcement agencies to hold illegal immigrants for up to 48 hours so immigration officers can take them into custody.
“It is unconscionable that someone who is sworn to uphold the law would find it acceptable to release an alleged rapist who is illegally present in the U.S. back into the community when there are other options available under federal immigration law,” Moore said.
In a statement of its own, the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office claimed another agency initially arrested Perez based on a complaint and that he was never formally charged with rape.
Sheriff's spokesman Mark Meyers said Oklahoma County isn't a sanctuary county and works with ICE, even providing them space in the jail for their agents.
“That’s ridiculous, and that shows the political drive behind this," Meyers said of the ICE statement. "Oklahoma County has never been considered a sanctuary city or a county,” he said.
The sheriff's office said local authorities didn't have a warrant to justify holding Perez but added that ICE was still contacted.
“ICE had an hour and a half to take the individual into custody but did not send anyone to pick up the individual before his scheduled release, and without any legal authority to hold the individual he was released,” the department said in a news release.
The department advised ICE to staff the jail with an agent "to have someone at the facility 24/7 to transport their detainees."