Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano responded Tuesday to a new report that nearly 500 illegal immigrants have been released from custody in North Carolina over the past 10 months despite detainers against them from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden has blamed the releases on low bonds being set by judges in the cases, arguing that the law requires the suspects to be released when they post bond, while an ICE detainer is merely a “request.”
“This is a world turned upside-down. … Something screwy is going on in North Carolina,” Napolitano said on “Fox & Friends,” adding there is a “danger to public safety” when suspected violent criminals are released from custody.
Napolitano said bail is usually not set “low” when the case is an alleged “crime of violence.” He said when he was a judge in New Jersey it would have been “inconceivable” for him not to make sure a suspect freed on bail in his courtroom was turned over to a separate law enforcement agency on other suspected crimes.
“It would violate my oath to uphold the law.”
According to data obtained by WBTV, 489 detainers were declined by law enforcement across the state of North Carolina since the fiscal year began last October.
McFadden had come under fire previously for declaring he would not comply with ICE detainers.
In one case in Mecklenburg County, an illegal immigrant was freed on bond in a child rape case. The suspect, Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo, was later apprehended by federal authorities, two months after McFadden ignored an ICE detainer order and released him from custody.
“You may want to ask a judge the question … on why bonds are set so low, in order for someone to be easily released from the detention center,” McFadden said Monday.
ICE said it issued a detainer a day after the June arrest, but it wasn’t honored and the 33-year-old Honduran national was released on $100,000 bond by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. The immigration enforcement agency said Pacheco-Leonardo reentered the U.S. illegally after being deported in 2006.
“This arrest is simply the latest in a continuing list of unlawfully present foreign nationals released from Mecklenburg County custody over the past nine months despite serious criminal charges that pose a clear threat to public safety,” ICE said in a statement about the case.
Fox News’ Robert Gearty contributed to this report.