ICE Deputy Executive Associate Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations Henry Lucero said Illinois’ “sanctuary” status made it difficult for federal immigration authorities to find and remove criminal illegal immigrants, the Daily Mail reported.
ICE has said that Cook County, where Chicago is located, denied more than 1,000 detainer requests just in 2019.
“If ICE is complaining, then they should do their job better,” Lightfoot told reporters, according to WLS.
ICE said that 34-year-old Christopher Puente, a Mexican national, has a criminal record that dates back 20 years.
Court records showed Puente was convicted of burglary, forgery, trespassing, domestic battery, and additional related offenses between 2006 and 2018, the Daily Mail reported.
ICE said he was initially deported to Mexico on Dec. 4, 2014 pursuant to an administrative removal order because he was a convicted aggravated felon, WLS reported.
Puente returned to the United States five days later.
He was arrested again after he claimed to be a U.S. citizen and presented a fake birth certificate to border agents at the Brownsville, Texas border crossing, WLS reported
ICE said Puente was charged with falsely claiming citizenship and ordered to appear before an immigration judge.
But he never showed up for court.
The judge ordered Puente removed, in absentia, on March 30, 2017, WLS reported.
He was arrested for theft in June of 2019 and should have been held by Chicago police on a detainer from ICE so he could be deported, but that didn’t happen.
Instead, Puente was free until he was arrested for raping a three-year-old girl in the men’s room at a Chicago McDonald’s, WLS reported.
Police identified Puente through McDonald’s security video and he was later arrested.
He confessed to some of what he had done to the little girl after he was arrested, WLS reported.
Prosecutors said Puente told police “he was f–ked up and thinking dirty” when he pulled the little girl into his bathroom stall, according to the Daily Mail.
ICE once again requested that Chicago police detain Puente on Feb. 20, according to WLS.
The Chicago mayor defended the police department’s earlier decision to release Puente before the little girl was raped.
“They’re critical because we have said very clearly we are a welcoming city, a sanctuary city,” Lightfoot said. “Chicago Police Department will not cooperate with ICE on any immigration-related business. And that’s affected their ability to conduct immigration raids across the city.”