Supervisors in a California county refused to change a sanctuary policy that critics say prompted the release from jail of a gang member in the country illegally before he allegedly killed a woman in San Jose.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to retain the policy of not holding immigration suspects without a warrant or a judicial order unless the person is charged with a crime.
The decision came after some local officials pushed the county to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the upcoming release of violent felons.
The policy came under criticism after the February 28 slaying of 54-year-old Bambi Larson.
Police later arrested Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza, 24, an immigrant from El Salvador who had been on the radar of ICE since 2013, when officials said he failed to show up in immigration court.
Police said Arevalo Carranza had been arrested in January on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and then released.
Police say he beat and stabbed Larson the next month in her home.
Police say Carranza, who has no address and is a known gang member, and stalked the woman through her neighborhood before breaking into her home and attacking her.
Larson was found dead by her son, who she worked with, after she failed to turn up to her job as a systems manager.
The son went over to her house around 1.45pm and discovered her body in her bedroom, suffering from multiple lacerations and blunt force trauma.
CCTV led them to a t-shirt outside the home which had both her blood and DNA from her attacker on it.
Carranza was arrested on unrelated drug charges on March 10 and a DNA sample was taken, which matched the DNA on the t-shirt.
He was rearrested the following day when police say they found Larson’s cellphone and e-reader in his possession.
An admitted gang member, Arevalo Carranza has a criminal history spanning five years in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.
San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia also revealed Carranza’s lengthy criminal history, which began in 2013 when he was arrested crossing the border illegally in Texas and deported back to Mexico.=
He has been arrested at least 10 times with three convictions for offences ranging from drug possession to battery, false imprisonment and burglary.
He was on probation for possession of methamphetamine, paraphernalia, false imprisonment and burglary at the time of the alleged killing, police said.
ICE had applied nine times for a detainer on Carranza, a move which allows suspects to be held longer than their prison term so their immigration status can be investigated by federal officials.
All nine requests had been ignored by county officials, ICE field director Erik Bonnar said, allowing Carranza to be freed so he could offend again.
Bonnar told CBS: ‘How many more people have to be killed or injured before California lawmakers will open discussions to revise the state policy prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from working with ICE to apprehend dangerous criminal aliens?
‘It’s unfortunate that our communities face dangerous consequences because of inflexible state laws that protect criminal aliens.
‘These sanctuary policies have unintended, but very real, and often tragic consequences to public safety.’
San Jose Police Officers’ Association echoed those remarks, saying: ‘When it comes to policing, there’s a distinct difference between a Dreamer who commits a victimless crime and a violent serial sexual predator with multiple offenses.
‘Our society must recognize there’s a difference between someone who is trying to make ends meet for their family, and a self-admitted gang member, a monster who brutally murders an innocent woman in her own home.’
The San Jose Police Officers’ Association said it was disappointed with the board’s decision this week and would continue to push for a change in the policy.
‘Notifying our federal law enforcement partners of the upcoming release of those individuals with a proven record of violent criminal behavior is the right thing to do,’ said Paul Kelly, president of the association.
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