Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the man charged with killing and sexually assaulting an elderly woman in Queens should have been deported—faulting the de Blasio administration's sanctuary city policies for continuing "to threaten the safety of all residents of the five boroughs," the agency said in a press release.
Reeaz Khan, 21, is accused of murdering 92-year-old Maria Fuertes just after midnight on January 6th in Richmond Hill. Police have said Khan walked up to her from behind, knocking her down and attacking her for several minutes—hidden from security cameras behind a parked car. Fuertes was left with injuries on her neck and private areas following the attack.
In a statement on Tuesday, ICE claims Khan was "unlawfully" in the U.S. and should have been detained by ICE after he was arraigned for charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon back in November, which the Times reports was an assault charge for attacking his father with a broken coffee cup.
ICE said it had issued a "detainer" on Khan (who came to New York from Guyana) following his November 27th arrest so that he could be transferred to ICE custody. A detainer is issued in cases when ICE believes a suspect in the custody of local police has "probable cause" to be deported, according to ICE.
"It is made clear that New York City's stance against honoring detainers is dangerously flawed," Thomas R. Decker, field office director for enforcement and removal operations in New York, said in a statement. "New York City’s sanctuary policies continue to threaten the safety of all residents of the five boroughs, as they repeatedly protect criminal aliens who show little regard for the laws of this nation."
"Clearly the politicians care more about criminal illegal aliens than the citizens they are elected to serve and protect," Decker said.
But the NYPD maintains it did not receive a detainer for Khan, who was released on bail soon after his November arrest. At the time of Khan's November arrest, "the NYPD did not receive an ICE detainer in regard to this individual," NYPD spokesperson Annette Shelton said in a statement.
"Our responses to detainer requests are dictated by local law," Shelton added.
De Blasio spokesperson Olivia Lapeyrolerie said: "We mourn with the family of Ms. Fuertes. If Mr. Khan is convicted, the City will cooperate with federal officials in accordance with local law."
Khan told the Daily News during an interview on Rikers Island that he found Fuertes laying on the ground on the night she died and had tried to help her get up. Police officials say he was seen on camera approaching her from behind before they vanished behind a parked car, and a criminal complaint says he gave varying accounts regarding the alleged sexual assault.
Khan faces second degree murder and sex abuse charges. Queens Defenders, who represents Khan, declined to comment on the active cases.
Though ICE's latest statement suggests undocumented immigrants are a public safety threat and should be treated differently than U.S. citizens accused of crimes, research shows that undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens. Another report shows that a majority of arrests for violent or property crimes involved citizens, rather than immigrants—not accounting for immigration-related offenses.
Decker has previously complained that the city's sanctuary policies are "terrible." President Donald Trump signed an executive order in 2017 threatening to hold back federal cash from sanctuary cities. Meanwhile, ICE agents have continued to arrest people near New York courthouses, despite a state directive barring such tactics.