A previously deported Honduran national, who was convicted of child rape after Philadelphia authorities released him from custody, pleaded guilty to re-entering the U.S. illegally on Tuesday.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced Tuesday that Juan Ramon Vasquez, 45, faces a maximum penalty of two years in federal prison for illegal re-entry.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials deported Vasquez from the U.S. in 2009, but the illegal alien re-entered the U.S. in March 2014 when officials took him into custody.
When Philadelphia officials dropped the local criminal charges against him, they did not honor an ICE detainer and released Vazquez, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Once authorities released Vazquez in 2015, authorities re-arrested him and later convicted him on one count of child rape and one count of unlawful sexual contact with a minor, according to a statement from ICE.
Vasquez is currently serving eight to 20 years in a Pennsylvania state prison for the child rape charges.
“The facts of this case highlight the danger posed by the City of Philadelphia’s decision to disregard ICE detainers and release previously deported aliens from local custody,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Vazquez used multiple aliases — including Ramon Aguirre-Ochoa — and falsified birth dates to evade authorities.
In a court hearing over Philadelphia’s sanctuary city policies this year, First Deputy Managing Director Brian Abernathy testified that the city arrested Vasquez in 2015 but released him because the charges were dropped even though ICE placed a detainer on the suspect.
City officials argued they would have handed over Vazquez to federal immigration authorities if they obtained an arrest warrant.
ICE knew about his recent arrest through the agency’s Priority Enforcement Program when the agency matched his fingerprints against a set of fingerprints within a database.
The city of Philadelphia has not been shy about its support for sanctuary city policies. In June, Philadelphia’s mayor was caught on video dancing with joy when a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot withhold grants to law enforcement agencies in cities with sanctuary city policies.
The city also announced last month that it would end its information-sharing contract with ICE, caving to pressure from left-wing interest groups.