by Jason Hopkins
The chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pulled no punches when reacting to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s defense of her sanctuary agenda after an illegal alien, who was wanted by the agency, allegedly abused a child.
Matthew Albence, the acting director of ICE, ripped Lightfoot and her city’s refusal to work with his agency in an interview with Fox News. The comments come after Chicago authorities ignored an ICE detainer on an illegal alien, releasing him back into the public, and now that alien is accused of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl in a bathroom stall.
“I think it’s the height of hypocrisy,” Albence told Fox News. “I can tell you, I’ve been firsthand trying to work with the city of Chicago for the better part of a decade to get them to cooperate with us so we can get criminals off the streets.”
The allegations against Christopher Puente, a 34-year-old Mexican national living illegally in the U.S., highlight the potentially dangerous consequences when sanctuary cities refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Puente racked up an extensive rap sheet before his recent run-in with the Chicago Police Department.
He was convicted of forced-entry burglary in 2011 and again in 2017, and forgery in 2012 — all of which are felony crimes. Puente was deported back to Mexico in December 2014, but was apprehended by border agents in Brownsville, Texas, just five days after his removal. He was subsequently charged with falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen.
The Mexican national was ordered to appear before a judge, but apparently disappeared into the interior of the U.S., never showing up to his court date. He was ordered to be removed by an immigration judge in absentia in March 2017.
Despite all of these crimes, the Chicago Police Department chose not to honor the ICE detainer placed on Puente after he landed in their custody in June 2019 on theft charges. Puente was ultimately released back into the community, and on Feb. 19 he was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 3-year-old child at a fast food restaurant.
According to prosecutors, Puente motioned for the girl to enter his stall while her father was busy helping her brother in a public bathroom. The illegal alien locked the stall, held her and covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming.
Prosecutors said her father was able to hear her cries and rushed to pull her dangling legs, getting her out of the stall. She was later taken to the hospital.
Puente would not have been able to commit the heinous crime, ICE argued, if city authorities had honored the detainer — notifying the agency of his release, which would have allowed ICE agents to bring him into their custody.
Lightfoot, however, absolved herself of any responsibility, and placed blame back onto the agency.
“They’re critical because we have said very clearly we are a welcoming city, a sanctuary city. Chicago Police Department will not cooperate with ICE on any immigration-related business,” the mayor said in February.
“If ICE is complaining, then they should do their job better,” the liberal mayor said at the time.
Albence, for his part, was having none of it when speaking to Fox News about the situation.
“They’ve cut out our information sharing ability, they’ve cut off our ability to get individuals they have in custody turned over to us, they’ve cut us out of the gang database,” he said.
“So for the mayor to sit there and say ICE should do its job better — we’d love to do our job better but we depend on the cooperation of other law enforcement agencies, just like Chicago Police Department does,” Albence continued.
Unfortunately for the alleged victim in this case, the young girl may already be irreparably harmed.
“We have seen time and time again, unfortunately, way too many tragic circumstances like this poor 3-year-old kid who is going to suffer trauma for the rest of her life as a result of Chicago not turning this criminal over to us when we asked for him last year,” Albence said.
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Jason Hopkins is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.