At a press conference this morning, Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence blamed New York’s sanctuary city policy for the rape and murder of a 92-year-old woman named Maria Fuertes. “Make no mistake. It is this city’s sanctuary policies that is the sole reason this criminal was allowed to roam the streets freely and end an innocent woman’s life,” Albence said. Later he added, “One simple phone call and Maria Fuertes could be alive today.” Here’s how the NY Times reported Fuertes’ death last week:
On Monday evening, while taking what neighbors described as one of her regular strolls, Ms. Fuertes was attacked just steps from her home by a man who approached her from behind and knocked her to the ground, the police said.
Ms. Fuertes was found lying in the street and later pronounced dead. Investigators are now seeking to determine whether she was sexually assaulted, the police said at a news conference on Friday.
A suspect, Reeaz Khan, 21, also a resident of South Richmond Hill, fled the scene and was later arrested and charged with murder and sex abuse, authorities said.
Fuertes was the neighborhood cat lady who would collect cans and bottles in a shopping cart and used the money, in part, to feed her 10 cats. Reeaz Khan is in the US illegally and had been arrested last November for an assault on his own father with a broken coffee cup. After his arrest, ICE issued a detainer asking the city to notify them before Khan was released. Instead Khan was released shortly after his araignment and two months later he was arrested for the murder of Maria Fuertes. After ICE published a press release blaming her death on the city’s sanctuary policy, the city denied that it had ever received a detainer for Khan:
The New York City Police Department disputed the claim on Tuesday, saying that it “did not receive an ICE detainer in regard to this individual” after he had been arrested on Nov. 27, said Sgt. Mary Frances O’Donnell, a department spokeswoman.
On Wednesday, ICE released a copy of the fax transmission form appended to the detainer, which was dated Nov. 27.
In other words, the city lied. Acting Director Albence pointed out at today’s press conference that the denial by the city was especially odd because New York brags on one of its websites about not responding to the detainers they do receive. “That’s why it’s so disingenuous when they came out in this instant case that they never received an ICE detainer. What’s the difference? They said themselves they didn’t honor a single one last year.”
Again, they did receive a detainer in this case, contrary to the city’s denial, but Albence is right that, given the city’s sanctuary policy it wouldn’t matter whether they had or not. “If you’re going to have a sanctuary city policy and you know it’s going to result in people going back into the street and committing more crimes, at least own it. At least stand up and say that’s our policy. Own it. Don’t sit there and try to pass the blame onto somebody else. It’s disgusting,” Albence said.
Here’s the full press conference: