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ICE submitted nine detainers to hold illegal immigrant who killed a woman; all of the requests were ignored

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Tatiana Sanchez
San Francisco Chronicle

A transient man arrested Monday on suspicion of killing a 59-year-old San Jose woman last month is in the country illegally and has a lengthy criminal history across California, authorities said Tuesday.

Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza, 24, of El Salvador, is a “self-admitted gang member” who has been convicted of more than 10 crimes in the past three years. Yet he evaded immigration authorities who sought to detain him several times.

His case has thrown into question the sanctuary policies in jurisdictions across California, which generally prohibit police from enforcing federal immigration law in their communities — and may inevitably allow criminals like Arevalo Carranza to slip under their radar.

The situation outraged even law enforcement and politicians in San Jose, who strongly support sanctuary policies but said serious offenders living in the country illegally need to be prosecuted.

“When we have violent or serious offenders that are preying on the community, we must have the ability to protect our residents,” said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia during a news conference Tuesday.

Arevalo Carranza is accused of killing Bambi Larson, a San Jose resident who was stabbed to death in her home in late February.

ICE previously issued nine detainers for Arevalo Carranza with jails in Los Angeles and Santa Clara County, where he served time for local crimes. But the detainers were all ignored by California law enforcement, allowing him to get back “onto our streets to re-offend,” the agency said.

“How many more people have to be killed or injured before California lawmakers will open discussions to revise the state policy prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from working with ICE to apprehend dangerous criminal aliens?” said ICE spokesman Erik Bonnar in a statement.

A detainer or “immigration hold” is a written request by ICE to a local jail or law enforcement agency to detain an undocumented immigrant arrested on criminal charges for an additional 48 hours after his or her release. The intent is to give ICE time to arrest the individual and begin deportation proceedings.

Detainers have been the focus of intense debate for several years, often sparking questions about whether local law enforcement agencies should cooperate with authorities to enforce immigration law. Advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the practice allows ICE to detain people without due process, often without any pending charges.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Tuesday urged Santa Clara County to reconsider its policy of ignoring ICE hold requests for predatory felons, arguing that it often undermines the safety of the immigrant communities they seek to protect.

He said the county’s policy has “nothing to do” with San Jose’s decades-long policy of preventing police from enforcing immigration law.

“In contrast, the current county policy of ignoring detainer requests for individuals arrested for strike offenses and convicted of multiple felonies undermines public safety, and violates common sense,” Liccardo said in a statement. “I hope we can restart this conversation to make progress where we all agree: We can both keep our city safe from violent criminals and protect our law-abiding immigrant community.”

Arevalo Carranza, who was on probation when he was arrested this week, has been convicted of burglary, battery of an officer, prowling and trespassing, and possession of methamphetamine in recent years, among other crimes. He entered the U.S. illegally in South Texas in 2013 and was arrested days later by U.S. Border Patrol, according to ICE.

He was released from custody about four months later, pending immigration proceedings and required to report to ICE.

In October 2016 and November 2016, ICE filed three detainers with the Los Angeles Police Department Central Jail for Arevalo Carranza after he was arrested on local charges. None were honored, ICE said.

ICE filed six additional detainers with the Santa Clara County Jail for Arevalo Carranza between June 2016 and January 2019, after he was arrested on local charges. They weren’t honored.

On Feb. 28, San Jose police responded to the 900 block of Knollfield Way in south San Jose to reports of a dead body.

Larson had worked as a quality systems manager at a genetic sequencing company, according to her LinkedIn profile.

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Ashley McBride contributed to this report.

Tatiana Sanchez is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: tatiana.sanchez@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @TatianaYSanchez.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Ice is trying to do their job and keep Americans safe. All these Mayors and Governors of sancuary cities need to be held accountable.

    • I agree 100%! I can’t remember another time, at least in my lifetime, that City, County or State officials defied Presidential orders. No matter how one feels personally about a President, it is not okay to just openly defy the law. We are still a Country based on democracy and we are losing the respect of countries who have long considered the United States to be the most powerful Country in the World. This President was elected by a majority and deserves to be given a chance to carry out his campaign promises just like any other President of this Country! This open defiance and disrespect shown to the current administration makes our Country appear broken, indecisive and certainly in no position to be the strong influential leader we have always been!

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