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Pr. William's chair: DHS knowingly releases dangerous criminals

Tuesday - 3/15/2011, 12:37pm  ET

Stewart375.jpg
(WTOP Photo/Paul D. Shinkman)

Mark Segraves and Paul D. Shinkman, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Homeland Security knowingly releases dangerous illegal immigrants when they should be deporting them, the Prince William County chief executive told WTOP on Tuesday.

Prince William authorities have captured more than 3,000 illegal immigrant criminals who were released by Homeland Security without any collaboration with local authorities, said county Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart on WTOP's "Ask the County Executive" program.

These criminals include Carlos Montano, 23, who is awaiting trial for crashing into and killing a nun and injuring two others last August.

"We simply want to know who they are, where they were released, what their disposition is," Stewart said of the illegal immigrants.

"(Homeland Security needs) to let local police know when they're releasing a dangerous criminal back into the community," he said. "And they're not doing it right now."

Prince William County has filed a federal suit to determine why Montano was not detained or deported after two previous drunken-driving arrests in 2007 and 2009.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official responded in a statement last August to WTOP inquiry about Montano.

"Carlos Abraham Martinelly Montano is currently in immigration removal proceedings. ICE first encountered Montano in October 2008 when he was released to ICE following a local arrest for a DUI charge," wrote ICE spokeswoman Cori Bassett.

"ICE immediately placed Montano into removal proceedings by issuing him a notice to appear in immigration court. He was released on his own recognizance and has reported as required, on a monthly basis to ICE."

Sources also told WTOP that Montano did not meet ICE's minimum threshold for mandatory detention and deportation. An illegal immigrant must be convicted of a violent felony to fall into this threshold. Numerous drunken-driving convictions do not qualify as a violent felony.

Stewart was particularly critical Tuesday of members of Congress, citing House Republicans Eton Gallegly from California, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, and Lamar Smith from Texas, the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary.

"We asked for this information, we were expecting some better results, but they stonewalled us," said Stewart of their refusal to release documents on these incidents.

"I would hope (Lamar Smith) would start cooperating and do what he was telling people he would do when (Republicans) took the House, and show us the information."

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)