SAN JOSE, Calif. – Two people are dead after the Santa Clara County Jail ignored a detainer lodged by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and released a dangerous criminal alien back into the community. ICE maintains cooperation with local law enforcement is essential to protecting public safety, and the agency aims to work cooperatively with local jurisdictions to ensure that criminal aliens are not released into U.S. communities to commit additional crimes. Unfortunately, due to these dangerous sanctuary laws, two more people lost their lives, Nov. 22., allegedly at the hands of a criminal alien and repeat felon, lives that may have been saved had multiple previous immigration detainers been honored.
The alleged perpetrator, Fernando De Jesus Lopez-Garcia, is a repeat immigration offender with a significant criminal history spanning back nearly 15 years that includes convictions for battery of a spouse, assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, battery of an officer, and vandalism. On Nov. 22, the San Jose Police Department arrested De Jesus Lopez-Garcia for two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, battery on a spouse or cohabitant and violation of a protective order. Officers from ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) lodged an immigration detainer with the jail the following day.
“Our deepest condolences go out the victims and their families in this case,” said David Jennings, San Francisco ICE ERO field office director. “Here we have catastrophic proof of the abject failure of California’s sanctuary policies. The only person this policy protected was a criminal; permitting him to reoffend over and over again. Had those immigration detainers been honored, or had ICE been notified on any of the other multiple occasions he was arrested and released from local jails, we would have taken him into custody. Regrettably, politics continues to prevail over public safety, the detainers were ignored, and De Jesus Lopez-Garcia was released to the street.”
Sanctuary laws and local policies have failed De Jesus Lopez-Garcia’s victims on several occasions:
- On July 17, 2019, the Stockton, California, Police Department arrested De Jesus Lopez-Garcia for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, kidnapping, and threatening crime with intent to terrorize. On July 18, 2019, ICE’s Pacific Enforcement Response Center (PERC) lodged an immigration detainer with the San Joaquin County Jail (SJCJ), but on an unknown date, the SJCJ failed to honor the detainer and released Lopez-Garcia without notification to ICE.
- On Aug. 26, 2019, the San Joaquin Sheriff’s Office arrested De Jesus Lopez-Garcia for local charges, and on Aug. 28, 2019, the PERC again lodged an immigration detainer with the SJCJ. On an unknown date, the SJCJ failed to honor the detainer and released Lopez-Garcia without notification to ICE.
- On June 9, the Superior Court of San Joaquin, California, convicted De Jesus Lopez-Garcia for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse and sentenced him to 327 days in jail and five years’ probation. On June 26, the PERC lodged an immigration detainer with the Santa Clara County Jail. The jail failed to honor the detainer, and De Jesus Lopez-Garcia was again released into the community without notification to ICE.
- On Nov. 22, San Jose, California, Police Department arrested Lopez-Garcia for two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, battery on a spouse and violation of a protective order.
Due to sanctuary policies removing ICE’s access to local databases, pushing ICE agents out of jails and the associated political pressure discouraging local law enforcement from effectively communicating with federal immigration officials, ICE is often times unaware of a criminal alien being in custody prior to them being released. These misguided policies hinder ICE’s ability to lodge immigration detainers in a timely manner.
“Because of this recklessness, people lost their lives, allegedly at the hands of a repeat criminal and immigration offender,” continued Jennings. “These are deaths that likely could have been prevented had local law enforcement cooperated with ICE, as we have so effectively done in years past, toward the common goal of public safety.”