In the Spotlight
In yet another disturbing example of the devastation caused by open border policies, an illegal immigrant who entered the U.S. as a child a decade ago has been charged with first-degree rape, kidnapping and armed robbery in a county that proudly offers migrants sanctuary. The 20-year-old, Jose Roberto Hernandez-Penal, is accused of raping a woman and robbing her friend this month at a Maryland park after threatening the women with a machete. Days earlier police say he raped a 15-year-old girl at the same park in Montgomery County, which has long protected illegal aliens from federal authorities.
The illegal immigrant lives in Hyattsville, which sits in another Maryland county—Prince George’s—famous for its sanctuary policies. The measures protect illegal aliens by, among other things, releasing even the most dangerous criminals from jail to shield them from deportation. Hernandez-Penal, a native of El Salvador, entered the country illegally in 2013, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told a local media outlet, and was “ordered removed in absentia by an immigration judge” about a year later and again approximately seven months after that. Nevertheless, he remained in the country and committed heinous crimes against unsuspecting residents. Police say at approximately 2:40 p.m. on May 16 Hernandez-Penal approached two adult females on the Northwest Brach Trail of Burnt Mills East Special Park, displayed a machete, stole their property and sexually assaulted one of the victims. Upon leaving the scene, the illegal immigrant assaulted an adult male. Officials told several local news outlets that Hernandez-Penal is also suspected of raping a 15-year-old girl on the same trail of the two-acre facility a week earlier. The park is one of hundreds operated by Montgomery County along with other recreational facilities such as basketball courts, campsites, tennis courts and playgrounds.
Detectives handling the case for the Montgomery County Police Department believe there may be additional victims of sexual assault by Hernandez-Penal that have not contacted authorities. The agency reveals that the illegal immigrant “made statements of involvement” during interviews with detectives after his recent arrest. He was then transported to the Montgomery County Central Processing Unit where he was charged with first degree rape, first degree assault, second degree assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, and weapons-related crimes. In its news release detectives urge anyone who may have been a victim of Hernandez-Penal to contact the agency’s Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID).
It is important to note that this is the same law enforcement agency that regularly releases dangerous criminals like Hernandez-Penal from jail to protect them from federal authorities. For example, a few years ago an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who raped a seven-year-old girl multiple times was released because under Montgomery County’s sanctuary law police is banned from cooperating with the feds. Rather than honor a detainer issued by ICE under a partnership known as 287(g) that notifies the federal agency of inmates in the country illegally so that they can be deported, local officials freed the child rapist on bond. Not surprisingly, the rapist vanished. Prince George’s County, where Hernandez-Penal lives, practices the same sanctuary measures. In fact, ICE has resorted to unconventional methods to capture criminals in both jurisdictions. In one instance the agency preempted Montgomery and Prince George’s counties’ imminent release of a batch of illegal immigrant offenders by publicly disclosing their identity, complete with mug shots. Most were incarcerated for sexual crimes involving children, including rape and serious physical abuse that resulted in death. A couple were jailed for murder and assault.
The Maryland cases are part of a national crises generated by local governments around the country that offer violent illegal immigrants sanctuary. Under 287(g), ICE is notified of jailed inmates in the country illegally so that they can be deported after serving time for state crimes or making bail. Unfortunately, a growing number of city and county law enforcement agencies are instead releasing the illegal aliens—many with serious convictions such as child sex offenses, rape and murder—rather than turn them over to federal authorities for removal.