Incident in El Paso tied to national immigration debate

Illegal immigrant's release raises new debate

New Immigration Policy Stirs Debate

El Paso, TEXAS - Domestic assault charges are nothing out of the ordinary. Police, sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement agents deal with assault charges regularly. However, a routine incident that took place in mid-July in El Paso County is drawing national attention.

According to the National ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Council, which represents more than 7,000 ICE agents throughout the United States, an illegal immigrant attempted to flee from federal agents on July 17 when they tried to arrest the person for being an illegal immigrant. The suspect, who is only being described as 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 245 pounds, allegedly attacked an ICE agent causing injuries severe enough to force the agent out of work for several weeks. Resisting arrest, like domestic assaults, are nothing new, but the claim that exists that a new immigration policy required federal agents to release the suspect is.

A new deferred deportation policy is set to be enacted by the federal government on Aug. 15. In essence, it states that if people under the age of 30 with a clean criminal history meet certain requirements they'll be given the opportunity to legally remain in the United States for up to two years while working. The policy will allow illegal immigrants to file for paperwork to show they're legally allowed to remain within the United States. But, Chris Crane, the president of the National ICE Council, said those new policies have already been implemented in the field for ICE workers and that they've received mixed reviews.

"We don't have any guidance, we don't have any training," said Crane. "All we have is verbal communication coming from DHS (Department of Homeland Security), ICE and from managers in the field. The end result is that in many offices we're doing something different."

Crane said that's why in mid-July the suspect accused of a felony offense of attacking a federal agent was set free. In a release from the National ICE Council Crane stated: "ICE managers didn't even question the criminal alien but instead ordered that he immediately be released in accordance with the President's new immigration policies."

If the allegations are true and the suspect committed a felony by attacking a federal agent, the suspect wouldn't be eligible according to the policy set forth by the president.

Leticia Zamarripa, a public affairs officer with the Department of Homeland Security, declined to answer questions in relation to this story. However, she released a statement saying, in part: "This matter is currently under investigation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not comment on ongoing investigations. The safety and security of our law enforcement personnel is of the utmost priority for ICE."

Asked whether the National ICE Council had taken a public stance on the immigration reform policies that were recently announced by the president, Crane declined to make a statement for the agency, but did say he didn't believe policy could be properly implemented by the president as opposed to Congress, which traditionally enacts immigration policy.

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