Politics & Policy

Philadelphia Protects Illegal Immigrant Accused of Rape

Mayor Nutter's executive order prevents cops from cooperating with immigration agencies.

An executive order signed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will protect a man accused of rape from deportation.

Philadelphia police charged Milton Mateo Garcia, a 28-year-old Honduran citizen, with rape, robbery, aggravated assault, kidnapping and other offenses for repeatedly victimizing a young doctor inside her apartment, police said at a press conference as reported by NBC’s Philadelphia affiliate. Garcia was previously removed in June 2013, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deputy press secretary Gillian M. Christensen tells National Review Online via email. She says ICE has lodged a detainer against Garcia, aka Milton Garcia-Vazquez, requesting that law enforcement notify ICE before releasing him so that ICE may assume custody.

But if Garcia is acquitted of wrongdoing by the police, he need not worry about potential deportation proceedings. The Philadelphia Police Department will refuse to honor ICE’s detainer at the direction of the mayor. Philly’s executive order No. 1-14, which was signed by Nutter this April, states, “No person in the City who otherwise would be released from custody shall be detained pursuant to an ICE civil immigration detainer request#…#nor shall notice of his or her pending release be provided, unless such person is being released after conviction for a first or second degree felony involving violence and the detainer is supported by judicial warrant.”

Francis Healy, special advisor to the Philadelphia Police Commissioner, says Philadelphia police are a quasi-military organization that will follow the mayor’s executive order whether they like it or not.

“We’re not accepting any detainers and we’re not making any notifications to ICE period,” Healy tells NRO. “The police department is nothing more than a microcosm of society, so I’m sure we have some people that object to it.”

Healy says the city aims to get victims to come forward, and does not care whether the victim is an illegal or legal resident of the country. “We have certain policies in place to ensure that they have access to government services — legal or illegal immigrant makes no difference to us,” he says. “We do the best we can to try to open our doors to them [immigrants]–open the doors and keep them open.”

If Garcia were released, he would enjoy several city services. In November 2009, Nutter signed executive order 8-09, which provides illegal immigrants with access to Philadelphia’s medical services, mental health services, children’s protective services, city facilities, and other services. The order also forces city employees to refrain from inquiring about a person’s immigration status when determining the person’s benefit eligibility. Healy says he did not know why Garcia chose to come to Philadelphia, a sanctuary city, after being deported last summer. Before his arrest, Garcia worked in the kitchens of three area restaurants for several months, according to Philly.com.

Asked whether he has concerns about Garcia, and others like him, being released into the city without any notification of federal officials, Healy says “On that note I won’t comment because like I said my job is to support the mayor’s office and his orders . . .  I fully support my mayor’s executive order, OK? I work for the city here, buddy, you know what I’m saying?”

But even if the Philadelphia police respected ICE’s detainer, Garcia might still remain a free U.S. resident. In 2013, ICE freed more than 36,000 convicted criminal aliens with nearly 88,000 convictions, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Included among the crimes are hundreds of examples of the offenses with which Garcia has been charged: 426 sexual assault convictions, 790 robbery convictions, 1,075 aggravated assault convictions, and 303 kidnapping convictions. The list also includes 193 homicide convictions. If Philadelphia lets people like Garcia walk, they may just arrive on this list.  

— Ryan Lovelace is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.


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