By ANDREW SELSKY, Associated Press SALEM, Ore. (AP) 07/31 — A Mexican man was sentenced to eight years in federal prison Monday for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported at least 11 times, in a case that highlighted tension between federal officials and authorities in Oregon, the nation’s first sanctuary state.
Sergio Martinez-Mendoza, whom officials also referred to as Sergio Jose Martinez, attacked two women in Portland on July 24, 2017, a week after he had been freed from jail where was serving time for interfering with police and providing a false birthdate.
He was sentenced in December to 35 years in state prison for those attacks after pleading guilty to sodomy, kidnapping, sex abuse and other charges.
Oregon became America’s first sanctuary state when it adopted a law in 1987 preventing law enforcement from detaining people who are in the United States illegally but have not broken other laws. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions highlighted Martinez’s case when he visited Oregon in September, and urged local jurisdictions to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
In announcing the sentencing, Billy J. Williams, the U.S. Attorney for Oregon, hit on that theme again.
“We must stop dangerous criminals with no right to be in the U.S. from returning to our streets and reoffending after completing their state sentences,” Williams said.
Sheriff Michael Reese previously said he could not have legally continued to hold Martinez-Mendoza in jail on an “immigration detainer” request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after he completed his sentence for interfering with police and providing false information. Reese said that if ICE had sent a criminal detention warrant signed by a judge, Martinez could have been held longer.
“He was released consistent with the orders of the court. No federal or state criminal warrants were present at the time he left our custody,” the sheriff said at the time.
Williams, though, said Monday that state law allows officials in Oregon to give ICE notice when a defendant subject to deportation is in custody on state charges.
“As evidenced by this case, effective communication between federal and state law enforcement is imperative to ensure dangerous illegal aliens are identified and deported according to law,” Williams said in a statement.
A measure to repeal Oregon’s sanctuary state status will be on the ballot in the November elections after opponents of the state law gathered enough signatures.
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Posted in: Assault, Border Control, Convictions, Crime & Criminals, Deportation, Federal Agencies, ICE, Illegal Activities, Policies & Practices, Public Safety, Sanctuary Cities/States, Sentencing, Victims of Crime