Posted on November 14, 2019

Previously Deported Guatemalan Charged with Killing Upstate New York Resident in DUI

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, November 14, 2019

Heriberto Perez-Velasquez

Heriberto Perez-Velasquez

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed a detainer Nov. 12, against a repeat immigration violator Guatemalan national Heriberto Perez-Velasquez with the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office, where he is currently detained after being arrested for vehicular homicide. Perez-Velasquez was arrested a month earlier by New York State Police on DUI charges and released from state custody on an appearance ticket with no notification to ICE.

By releasing an illegal alien with a history of driving under the influence, state authorities chose to release a serious public safety threat into the community where he is now implicated in a vehicular homicide.

“Had Mr. Perez-Velasquez been detained by ICE after his October 2019, DUI arrest, a life might have been spared,” said Acting ICE Director Matt Albence. “Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and jeopardizing the lives of law-abiding citizens.”

“The Buffalo Field Office’s robust enforcement programs are focused at making upstate New York communities safe from dangerous criminal aliens and those that look to exploit our nation’s immigration laws,” said ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Buffalo Field Office Director Thomas Feeley. “The staff of the Buffalo Field Office works tirelessly to ensure that the upstate communities don’t become a safe haven for criminals.”

Perez-Velasquez, an illegal alien from Guatemala, was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol May 11, 2007, and removed to his home country later that month. Perez illegally re-entered the country at an unknown date. On Oct. 18, 2019, New York State Police arrested Perez for resisting arrest, DUI, and other charges. Perez was released from state custody on an appearance ticket and ICE was never notified.

On Nov. 10, 2019, the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office arrested Perez for vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. On Nov. 12, 2019, ICE lodged a detainer and warrant of removal with the sheriff’s office on Perez.

New York State policy severely limits state and local law enforcement cooperation with ICE and requires a judicial warrant to honor most ICE detainers.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act as passed by Congress, ICE detainers, removal orders issued by federal immigration judges, and ICE immigration enforcement in general, is conducted under civil law. The “judicial warrant” demand only applies to criminal cases and does not exist for civil law matters.

In Fiscal Year 2018, the Buffalo Field Office made 1,582 arrests in the 48-county region – approximately 80 percent of those individuals either had a prior criminal conviction or came into ICE custody pursuant to their criminal arrest on pending charges. These statistics make clear that the agency conducts targeted enforcement focused first on criminals and public safety threats.