UPDATE: The Travis County Sheriff's Office has released a statement to clarify that ICE did provide information regarding the criminal history of 33-year-old Julio Cesar Mendoza-Caballero.
It has been brought to the attention of TCSO that ICE did in fact send an email at 3:45 pm on June 16, 2017 that provided criminal history information about Julio Cesar Mendoza-Caballero. The message also requested that our decision to decline his ICE Detainer Request be re-considered.
Our agency deeply regrets that the message was missed due to a clerical error. We did not receive either a judicial warrant or an order of removal signed by a judge. Either of those documents would have guaranteed that Mendoza-Caballero’s ICE Detainer Request would have been honored.
"I believe that 'Immigration' overreacted and I believe that it may have been a little politically based," said Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez on Wednesday.
His mugshot can't be released, Austin Police say -- but 33-year-old Julio Cesar Mendoza-Cabellero has quite the rap sheet.
According to ICE he was convicted of stealing a firearm in Hopkins County back in 2008.
He has been deported 4 times and is a documented Mexican gang member -- a criminal organization familiar to sheriff AJ Louderback with the Sheriff's Association of Texas.
"Long history of extreme violence. Savage violence is their calling card," Louderback said.
Last month, Mendoza-Cabellero was booked into the Travis County Jail for "assault with injury," a Class A misdemeanor. ICE sent out a press release this week claiming they filed a detainer on June 16th but the county released him that same day without telling them.
That doesn't sit well with Louderback.
The Sheriff's Association supported SB4, the so-called "Sanctuary Cities" bill.
"A person with these credentials who can get out of the jail and have to be re-arrested by ICE, we would suggest that's a public safety concern," Louderback said.
Deportation officers arrested Mendoza-Cabellero in Austin last week.
In the press release, ICE San Antonio Field Office Director Daniel Bible said "ICE officers and the individual neighborhoods are placed at risk each time an ICE officer is forced to pick up an alien who could have safely been turned over to us by the releasing law enforcement agency. In the interest of public safety, ICE continually strives to strengthen its relationships with local law enforcement agencies."
"We need to figure out exactly why the detainer was declined," Louderback said.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez told the press Wednesday afternoon, Mendoza-Cabellero's Class A misdemeanor and Class C ordinance charge doesn't fit their criteria for honoring the detainer, per the controversial policy she implemented in February.
"Doesn't fall in our threshold. And so we declined the detainer and the subject made bond. But also they had 6 hours before he was released and during that 6 hours they could have produced a removal order or a warrant and they did neither," Hernandez said.
Hernandez says 6 hours was enough time for ICE to act.
"Not only can they get you the paperwork very quickly, if they call and say they're bringing the paperwork...I mean it truly is communication and we're doing our part," she said.
Hernandez says past crimes are taken into consideration when they're reviewing detainers but she says the number of times someone is deported is not a factor.
"They talked in their press release about how this particular person was deported 4 times. So he's now in their custody, probably deported the 5th time. Does that make our community safer? I say 'no,'" Hernandez said.
Mendoza-Cabellero is in U.S. Marshal custody now pending his deportation case.
Late Wednesday afternoon, ICE responded again to Travis County:
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed an immigration detainer accompanied by a Warrant of Removal (Form I-205), with Travis County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) notifying the county of ICE’s intent to take into custody Julio Cesar Mendoza-Caballero, 33, from Mexico, a criminal alien gang member who had been deported four times previously. However, TCSO declined the detainer, despite being made aware of Mendoza-Caballero’s criminal history and gang ties. Upon declination of the detainer by TCSO, ICE asked TCSO to reconsider its decision to decline the detainer, again emphasizing Mendoza-Caballero’s criminal history and gang ties. However, despite ICE’s request, TCSO failed to notify ICE of Mendoza-Caballero’s impending release which would have afforded ICE the opportunity to detain and remove this dangerous criminal alien.
TCSO ultimately released this criminal alien to the streets, thereby potentially compromising the safety of the community it has sworn to serve and protect. Providing proper release notification to ICE gives the agency a specific time and place that an individual will be released from law enforcement custody. This allows ICE time to allocate appropriate resources in a responsible fashion. That information was not conveyed to ICE when TCSO declined the detainer, thus denying us the opportunity to take custody of this dangerous gang member.
Detainers are legally authorized requests, upon which a law enforcement agency may rely, to continue to maintain custody of an alien for up to 48 hours so that ICE may assume custody for removal purposes. Pursuant to ICE policy, all ICE detainers contain a completed probable cause statement and are submitted with an accompanying administrative arrest warrant or warrant of removal depending upon the circumstances of the individual case. In this case, ICE provided a Warrant of Removal with the detainer.
Depending on the alien’s criminal history, an alien who illegally reenters the United States, after having been previously removed, has committed a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.
ICE’s overall concern is for the safety and welfare of this nation’s citizens. ICE operations improve public safety by removing criminal aliens from the streets, and from the country."