13 Investigates joined ICE to serve immigration warrant on man convicted of child sexual assault
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Thursday, 13 Investigates was able to ride along with a group of federal agents arresting an undocumented immigrant previously convicted of sexually assaulting a child wanted on an immigration warrant, known as an I-200.
The man, who U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said is from Guatemala, was arrested in northeast Colorado Springs Thursday morning.
According to ICE, the man had three prior deportations from the United States before being released from prison after serving time for the sexual assault charge.
ICE told 13 Investigates they are specifically targeting undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds.
"We prefer to target non-citizens who have a criminal conviction or some, some kind of nexus that brings them to our attention," Robert Cultrip, Deputy Field Office Director for ICE, said.
ICE did not reveal the identity of the individual to afford him due process in the immigration system. However, officials said each time he was deported, he was able to re-enter without being prosecuted for illegal re-entry.
"In order to be charged with 8 U.S. Code 1326, which is illegal reentry, the individual must have final order of removal. A felony conviction that qualifies him, or a criminal conviction that qualifies him, and in this particular case, he had been removed from the country and then the reentry occurs, which is where we get to this point," Cultrip said. "If he had met those elements as far as lawful order removal, criminal conviction removal, and then the reentry, he could be subject to federal prosecution."
A group of a half-dozen ICE agents had been surveilling this man's home and place of work for days before apprehending him as he was on his way to work Thursday.
"After being apprehended today, he'll be taken to an immigration office and processed in that process. They'll explain to him what his rights are," Cultrip said. "They will also provide him information for pro-bono legal services, counselor notification information, allow him to contact his family, things of that nature."
ICE said they currently have around 6,000 agents working in the United States. Many of them can handle non-detain case management as well as enforcement and removal operations like they were handling in Colorado Springs when tracking this specific immigrant.
"We use a very targeted approach. We evaluate a lot of factors and how we determine what cases we approach," Cultrip said. "The public safety issue of it, we do take very seriously."
Cultrip says protecting public safety is one of its primary goals. In this case, the immigrant was still living with the named sex assault victim, prompting them to take more swift action.
"We care a lot about the citizens in our community, and it's our job in order to enforce laws and to protect the community. This individual is a perfect example of what we're trying to accomplish here," Cultrip said.
After his arrest, the immigrant will be transported to ICE's detention facility in Aurora. If he is deemed a significant enough public safety threat, he could be held there until he appears before an immigration judge.
He also could be issued a bond or released on a form of community supervision, like an ankle monitor.