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Thread: Immigration officials: Fugitive wanted for fatal Bluffs crash 'should be in custody'

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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Immigration officials: Fugitive wanted for fatal Bluffs crash 'should be in custody'

    POSTED: THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 2016 6:15 PM | UPDATED: 8:41 PM, THU JUN 2, 2016.
    By Joseph Morton / World-Herald Bureau

    WASHINGTON — Federal immigration officials have reiterated that their agency could have detained Eswin Mejia after police say he caused a fatal Jan. 31 crash while street racing in Omaha.

    Mejia, who was in the country illegally, was arrested after the wreck, which killed 21-year-old Sarah Root, but disappeared after being released on bail a few days later.

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined local police requests to detain him.

    “Simply put, Edwin Mejia should be in custody,” ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale wrote in a recent letter to Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

    The case has caused a political furor and become a lightning rod for criticisms of President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. Those criticisms include deferring enforcement action against some people in the country illegally.

    Lawmakers from Nebraska and Iowa have pressed the agency for more answers on what went wrong in the case of Mejia, who is now considered among ICE’s most wanted fugitives.

    Ragsdale said in his letter that under the administration’s policies, individuals who do not fall into specific enforcement categories still can be detained if doing so would serve an “important federal interest.” He said Mejia could have been detained on that basis.

    “I have made it clear to the ICE field offices that similarly situated aliens should be subject to enforcement action even if such aliens do not fall within the delineated priority categories, and (Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson) has reiterated this as well,” Ragsdale wrote. “I believe we could have done things differently to help ensure Edwin Mejia faces justice. I am committed to ensuring he does so.”

    Ragsdale wrote that his agency continues to work with the Omaha Metro Fugitive Task Force to find and arrest Mejia.

    http://www.omaha.com/news/crime/immi...887a1ac00.html
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  2. #2
    Senior Member European Knight's Avatar
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    By Chinh DoanBIO Published 6:31 PM CDT Jul 19, 2016

    'ICE's increased level of communication with law enforcement and prosecutors'


    OMAHA, Neb. —Eswin Mejia, 19, is still on the run, accused in the deadly crash that killed Sarah Root.

    Meanwhile, prosecutors say Mejia’s case is leading to some necessary changes locally. The biggest difference, according to Omaha’s City Prosecutor, has been cooperation from immigration enforcement to make sure suspects are not deported before they answer to their charges.

    One prime example is Juan Felipe-Fernando, 25, a Guatemalan charged with two counts of child enticement.

    Heather Brandon of Omaha says she wants accountability from the man charged with the crimes against her teenage daughter.

    It's been nine months since Juan Felipe-Fernando was arrested for allegedly trying to get the 14-year-old into his car on two separate occasions.

    "My daughter's life has been seriously affected by it and for him, apparently it's just a walk in the park," Brandon said.

    The case has been continued and rescheduled more than six times.

    Felipe-Fernando was convicted of a DUI in May.

    "We were stunned," Brandon said. "We were absolutely floored."

    Monday, when Felipe-Fernando was supposed to be at trial, "the state didn't know he wasn't going to be there and that he was detained over the weekend by immigration and customs enforcement," said Omaha city prosecutor Matt Kuhse.

    In a statement to KETV NewsWatch 7, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, “Juan Felipe Fernando, 25, a citizen of Guatemala, is currently in ICE custody following his recent state conviction for driving under the influence. ICE is actively working with local prosecutors so that Mr. Fernando will also be able to answer to additional unrelated criminal charges in court.”

    Kuhse said his office immediately asked for a judge to sign off on a bench warrant so Felipe-Hernando would have to answer to his charges. The hearing for the bench warrant motion is scheduled for Wednesday.

    "In this situation, we saw there was a problem and we were able to correct it. In Eswin Mejia's case, we weren't able to correct the problem because he was already out," Kuhse said.

    Kuhse formerly worked in the Douglas County Attorney's Office and was the prosecutor on Mejia's case. He said since the suspect fled from law enforcement, immigration officials have improved communications.

    "ICE (has) increased (the) level of communication with law enforcement and prosecutors," he said.

    Brandon said she needs more answers from both local and federal officials.

    "Back in October, they had an opportunity to come in and check things out," she said. "I do not know why immigration wasn't involved at that point."

    At the time of the child enticement arrest, booking reports show Felipe-Fernando told police he was a U.S. citizen. Officials say those arrested are not required to share their immigration status at the time of the booking, and some reportedly give false information.

    'ICE's increased level of communication with law enforcement and ...

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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    It will be interesting to see where those ICE officials work under a new administration.
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