GOP Sens. Press Obama Admin. Over Released Illegal Immigrant

Apolinar Altamirano was accused of killing a Mesa convenience store clerk on Jan. 22, 2015.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are pressing the Obama administration about the murder of Grant Ronnebeck, allegedly at the hands of an illegal immigrant who was released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement Custody.

“According to ICE, its enforcement policies and procedures are designed to protect national security and public safety. If the allegations related to this instance are found to be true, public safety was not ensured in this case,” Grassley and Flake wrote in a letter to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña Wednesday.

Police say Ronnebeck was shot over a pack of cigarettes while working at a Mesa, Arizona Quik Trip in January. The suspect in the murder, Apolinar Altamirano, is an illegal immigrant with a criminal history.

Grassley and Flake’s letter recounts ICE’s explanation of why Altamirano was on the streets in the first place.

“ICE explained its failure to deport Mr. Altamirano prior to the alleged murder, as follows: ‘[a]fter reviewing his immigration and criminal history, which showed only this conviction, ICE determined that under applicable law, Mr. Altamirano was eligible for bond. Mr. Altamirano posted a $10,000 bond on January 7, 2013,’” they quoted.

According to the pair, Altamirano subsequently had two more injunctions placed on him due to harassment complaints before the murder and while on bond.

“One of those injunctions was issued just three days before the alleged murder. According to reports, one woman feared for her life because Mr. Altamirano had threatened to kill her “plenty of times” and pointed a gun at her boyfriend,” wrote.

The letter comes the same week Ronnebeck’s uncle, Michael Ronnebeck, testified before a House panel about the Obama administration’s immigration policies. He explained that he believed Ronnebeck’s murder could have been prevented if Altamirano had been kept in detention and deported.

“We want Grant’s death to be a force for change in the immigration policy of this great nation,” Ronnebeck told the House lawmakers.

Flake and Grassley meanwhile requested detailed information from ICE about Altamirano, the circumstances of his release, and the broader issues related to catch-and-release.