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ICE: We could’ve prevented illegal repeat offender from stabbing train rider

Nathalie Asher with the Northwest Detention Center, a privately run federal detention center in Tacoma. (Nicole Jennings, KIRO Radio)

Were it not for sanctuary policies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement could have prevented a random, violent knife attack on a Seattle light rail train last month, according to Nathalie Asher, ICE regional field officer director.

Nery Jovani Acevedo-Sanchez, also known as Jesus Sanchez, was arrested after allegedly stabbing a father traveling with his son to a Huskies game. The wound was not fatal and the victim was taken to the hospital for treatment.

ICE exclusively informed the Dori Monson Show on Tuesday that Sanchez is in the country illegally.

Asher stated that ICE has known about Sanchez’ presence in the U.S. since 2013, when he was arrested and jailed in Des Moines for driving with a suspended license. As sanctuary policies were not yet in effect in 2013, ICE lodged a detainer with the jail and took him into federal custody once he was released from jail.

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“That was at a time when we still had strong working relationships with our local law enforcement partners and the state,” Asher said.

However, the severity of the crime he was arrested for did not qualify Sanchez as a priority for detention, so he was put in an Alternative to Detention program.

By 2017, however, Sanchez had been convicted of two counts of domestic violence and violating a protection order. These crimes were serious enough to qualify him for deportation.

“He is now posing a danger to public safety — at least to someone,” Asher said. “He has a victim out there and he has displayed this violent tendency.”

ICE lodged another detainer, but because of sanctuary policies, the jail did not work with the federal agency. Sanchez was released back onto the streets.

Two years later, he allegedly stabbed a stranger on a light rail train in Seattle.

Problems caused by state sanctuary policies

Asher worries that once sanctuary policies are enforced throughout the state, more dangerous offenders who could have been deported will end up back in the community to harm people.

“We really have to let the public know of the ramifications of what is going to become this state sanctuary that is in place,” she said.

The new law that designates Washington as a sanctuary state will cause a “complete lockdown” of law enforcement agency cooperation in December 2021, according to Asher.

“State and local agencies will not provide any information to federal immigration authorities for immigration enforcement,” she explained.

She does not blame local law enforcement agencies in the slightest, noting that they “want to work with us.” Instead, she said, it is the politicians in power who are to blame for sanctuary policies.

Among many Puget Sound politicians, the name “ICE” almost seems synonymous with a swear word — but Asher said that this characterization of the agency results from misinformation. For example, social media posts commonly refer to ICE conducting raids on immigrant families at their homes, but Asher said that this is not the true picture.

“We do not conduct raids — we conduct targeted enforcement actions,” she said.

Ironically, as she reminded listeners, sanctuary policies have actually led to more “average” illegal immigrants being picked up by ICE on the streets. Before sanctuary policies were established, ICE used to focus almost solely on deporting those illegal immigrants who had committed crimes and were sitting in jails.

“Now, I have to be in the communities where you don’t want me as a consequence of sanctuary cities … Now, because the doors have been not shut, but slammed, on us, that we cannot do this any longer, that they don’t honor our detainers, I am forced to redirect those assets to go into the communities, to conduct that target enforcement action,” Asher said.

And because of due diligence, people found with the targeted immigrant may come under ICE’s microscope as well.

“Previously, that would have not been the case, had we been allowed straight into the jail,” she said.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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