At a release hearing for Julio Cesar-Rueda earlier this month, the woman he is accused of raping at a New Year's Eve party told 1st Judicial District Judge Michael Vigil she was terrified at the possibility of Cesar-Rueda's bond being reduced.
And the case's prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Padgett, objected when Cesar-Rueda's $100,000 cash-only bond was lowered, making it more likely Cesar-Rueda could post bond.
Cesar-Rueda's case illustrates ongoing tension between local and federal law enforcement. Cesar-Rueda is not a US citizen. As such, Immigration and Customs Enforcement had placed a detainer on him, requesting he be kept in custody for 48 hours past the time he posts bond. Activists say such detainers are legally problematic. Some law enforcement officials say Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility doesn't always honor ICE detainers, creating potentially dangerous situations.
"They're releasing people that are accused of crimes and have been arrested for committing a crime, that are flight risks and are very difficult to apprehend after they've been released," State Police Criminal Investigations Section Sgt. Chris Valdez says.
In September 2010, another Mexican citizen Padgett is prosecuting was released despite an ICE detainer. Jesus Nicanor Gonzalez-Jiminez, 28, allegedly sexually assaulted an elderly woman during a violent home invasion last summer. His charges were filed in Magistrate Court and he was booked at SFCADF on multiple felonies, plus an ICE detainer.
When a US citizen is booked in Magistrate Court, the jail has to release him or her after 10 days if the state hasn't issued a grand jury indictment by then or filed for an extension. Gonzalez-Jiminez was released on the 10-day rule. Three days later, he was discovered loading furniture into a truck at his house, apparently preparing to flee, and was re-arrested.
Over the past several years, SFCADF stopped allowing ICE into the facility because of concerns about their practices, SFCADF Director Annabelle Romero tells SFR. She says ICE targeted inmates with hyphenated last names and didn't identify themselves.
"I was concerned about that because I think anybody conducting an interview should inform the person who they are, and they were also not informing them of their right to call their consulate. There's nothing that legally requires us to allow them access to do that," she says.
Now ICE uses SFCADF's website to find out who comes into the facility, Romero says.
Santa Fe-based immigrants-rights group Somos un Pueblo Unido hopes to make more detention centers aware of issues that arise with ICE's practices. Executive Director Marcela Díaz says there have been cases in which non-US citizens were held for long periods of time after charges were dropped because jails don't realize they aren't obligated to detain them.
"There's no standard of reasonable suspicion or probable cause in the issuance of an ICE hold—all it is is just non-mandatory requests to jails to hold them for an additional 48 hours," Díaz says. "But that's a tricky request because you're asking a jail to imprison someone after they've served their time or posted their bail. There are some serious legal concerns there…"
Díaz says she has heard anecdotally that there have been fewer ICE detainers on SFCADF's inmates, but she believes the facility honors ICE holds—which Romero says is true.
Valdez, on the other hand, says, he knows "that Santa Fe County does not recognize the ICE immigration detainer," and that, in order for ICE to place non-citizens into federal custody, the agency often has to independently determine court and potential release dates. An ICE spokeswoman did not respond prior to press time.
Díaz, however, says limiting ICE's access has allowed people arrested on minor crimes to "come out [of jail] and deal with the judicial process just like anybody else." Díaz cites as example a friend arrested on her first DUI.
"She went to classes; she got her interlock for a year. She is definitely the poster child for a rehabilitated person when it comes to that—she'll never drink and drive again," Díaz says. "She has a US citizen child and she's a single mother, and because of these policies, [SFCADF] didn't immediately feed her into that deportation system, and she continues to be a contributing member of our society."