The man accused of raping a 26-year-old Philadelphia woman at her Spruce Street home last month is becoming a conservative cause célébre. Because Mayor Nutter this year ended the city’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities, they say, Milton Mateo Garcia could endup going free and unpunished.
Here’s the case from Ryan Lovelace at the conservative National Review:
But if Garcia is acquitted of wrongdoing by the police, he need not worry about potential deportation proceedings. The Philadelphia Police Department will refuse to honor ICE’s detainer at the direction of the mayor. Philly’s executive order No. 1-14, which was signed by Nutter this April, states, “No person in the City who otherwise would be released from custody shall be detained pursuant to an ICE civil immigration detainer request#…#nor shall notice of his or her pending release be provided, unless such person is being released after conviction for a first or second degree felony involving violence and the detainer is supported by judicial warrant.”
If Garcia were released, he would enjoy several city services. In November 2009, Nutter signed executive order 8-09, which provides illegal immigrants with access to Philadelphia’s medical services, mental health services, children’s protective services, city facilities, and other services. The order also forces city employees to refrain from inquiring about a person’s immigration status when determining the person’s benefit eligibility. Healy says he did not know why Garcia chose to come to Philadelphia, a sanctuary city, after being deported last summer. Before his arrest, Garcia worked in the kitchens of three area restaurants for several months,according to Philly.com.
For proponents of Nutter’s action to end cooperation with ICE, though, all of this is a feature, not a bug. Back in February, before Nutter signed the order, I interviewed Nicole Kligerman of the New Sanctuary Movement and discussed this exact issue ahead of time:
Since the folks who have the holds on them have been arrested, should Philadelphians then be concerned that maybe we’re harboring criminals that are missed when we don’t have to?
Deportation is a civil action, it’s not one of the criminal justice system. When police and ICE are working together it’s actually obstructing the criminal justice’s due process to convict and detain people with criminal convictions. If someone commits a crime, they go to jail, they serve their time, they’re rehabilitated and should be released and not undergo this double punishment of being further deported. Ending ICE hold policy will in no way change the criminal justice system as it is — however flawed — as it’s currently working to give out criminal sentences.
All of this hinges, incidentally, on the idea that Garcia will be found innocent of the charges against him. That’s possible, but it probably bears waiting to see if the city’s new immigration policy actually releases rapists onto our city streets.