Federal officers say they placed an immigration hold in March on a man facing domestic violence allegations, but the Multnomah County jail wouldn’t recognize their civil detainer.
The man is accused of killing his wife and dumping her body in a ditch near a summer camp outside Sandy in Clackamas County.
The case is the latest to shine the spotlight on Oregon’s controversial sanctuary law as voters in next week’s election will decide whether to repeal the law.
The matter goes to the heart of the debate over the 31-year-old law, a major thorn in the side of the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has singled out Oregon and other states with similar laws as a haven for criminals who don’t belong in the United States.
It exposes the fraying relationship between the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The latest case has both agencies accusing the other of not protecting the Portland community.
ICE officials said they put a hold on Martin Gallo-Gallardo on March 6 after he was arrested and accused of felony fourth-degree assault in the alleged abuse of his wife. The agency provided The Oregonian with a copy of the receipt from the fax they sent to the Sheriff’s Office.
Gallo-Gallardo, a Mexican citizen, had illegally entered the United States, according to ICE. Border Patrol officers had apprehended him multiple times, federal officials said.
ICE wanted the county jail to alert its officers before Gallo-Gallardo’s release so they could pick him up for deportation proceedings.
County sheriff’s officials said they didn’t get the ICE request but wouldn’t have recognized it anyway. They argue that the detainers are administrative requests, not criminal warrants, and don’t meet state and federal law.
Gallo-Gallardo, 45, posted bail, and prosecutors soon dismissed the felony assault allegations when his wife and a daughter wouldn’t cooperate in the case and a grand jury didn’t return an indictment, according to court records and investigators.
This week, Gallo-Gallardo was charged with murder, accused of fatally stabbing his wife, Coral Rodriguez Lorenzo, 38.
An ICE spokeswoman suggested if Multnomah County had held Gallo-Gallardo as requested, he probably wouldn’t have returned to his family.
“ICE maintains that cooperation by local law enforcement is an indispensable component of promoting public safety,” said Tanya J. Roman, a spokeswoman for the ICE regional office that covers Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.
“It’s unfortunate that law enforcement agencies like the Multnomah County jail refuse to work with ICE to promote public safety by holding criminals accountable and providing justice and closure for their victims,” she said.
Sheriff Mike Reese has said his deputies will hold a person for ICE only when they receive a federal criminal arrest warrant signed by a judge.
The Sheriff’s Office said it never received the civil detainer for Gallo-Gallardo. Even if it had, the jail wouldn’t have kept him on an administrative hold, said Sgt. Brandon White, sheriff’s spokesman.
The Sheriff’s Office pushed back at ICE in a scathing response Friday.
“ICE is putting our community at risk with their failed enforcement strategy of not using the authority the agency already has to hold people accountable,” the office said.
“No Oregon jail can hold someone on a civil detainer based on the federal court case Miranda Oliveras v. Clackamas County. The U.S. Attorney’s Office knows this, ICE knows this, but they persist in pursuing this failed strategy. Federal officials had ample time to do their job. They had his name, address and his telephone number.
“It is disingenuous to make this claim when they failed to follow the process for even entering the civil detainer information into any law enforcement database. MCSO wants to make clear that we did not receive any information from ICE regarding this individual.”
In the 2014 Miranda Oliveras case, a federal magistrate judge ruled Clackamas County was liable for damages after it held an inmate beyond her release date at the request of immigration agents who were investigating her immigration status.
Federal authorities continue to complain, arguing the sheriff’s stance misinterprets state and federal law.
“Sanctuary policies not only provide a refuge for illegal aliens, but they also shield criminal aliens who prey on people in their own and other communities,” Roman said.
Oregon’s 1987 sanctuary law prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using public resources to arrest people whose only violation of the law is being in the country without documentation. Simply being in the country without authorization is a civil offense rather than a crime.
Federal officials say it shouldn’t impact defendants who are arrested on a criminal charge.
“In addition to false claims that ICE never filed a detainer, the county’s statement on this matter ignores the fact that there is no mechanism for a judge to issue a criminal warrant for an administrative immigration arrest,” Roman said. “Oregon’s sanctuary policies fail to recognize federally established processes for the enforcement of immigration law, and they do so at the expense of the safety of their citizens.”
Oregon voters are deciding whether to repeal the law. Opponents of the repeal have far out-raised and outspent its supporters.
Mat dos Santos, legal director of the ACLU of Oregon, has argued in the past that a defendant’s crimes are unrelated to immigration status. Tying them together appeals to the stereotype that immigrants are dangerous, when research shows that undocumented immigrants commit significantly fewer crimes than citizens born in the United States, he said.
Gallo-Gallardo was arrested early March 4 after a daughter called 911 at 4:24 a.m. and reported her father was yelling and hitting her mother, court records show. The girl said Gallo-Gallardo had come home drunk.
Police arrived and interviewed other children in the home, including a 15-year-old boy, who said he awoke to his father’s shouts and heard sounds of a physical fight. He told police his father had assaulted his mother in the past.
Police said they found Coral Rodriguez Lorenzo with a lump above her right eye and a lump on her forehead but she refused to answer questions about her pain level.
Gallo-Gallardo was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center in downtown Portland on two counts of felony fourth-degree assault. ICE officials said they placed a hold on him two days later. The sheriff’s office, as required, shared Gallo-Gallardo’s fingerprints with the FBI, which in turn provided the prints to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security ran them through its immigration databases.
Gallo-Gallardo posted 10 percent of his $20,000 bail and was released on March 8.
On March 12, Multnomah County prosecutors dismissed the assault allegations, unable to proceed without the help of Gallo-Gallardo’s wife and daughter.
The District Attorney’s Office had tried to connect the wife and daughter to support services, said Brent Weisberg, spokesman for the office.
“It’s every prosecutor’s worst nightmare to have a situation like this unfold,” Weisberg said, regarding the dismissal of the assault case only to be followed by a murder case.
Court records indicate Gallo-Gallardo has lived with his wife in Portland for two years. He was working full time at the Pacific Seafood warehouse in Clackamas County. He had no prior convictions and no valid driver’s license, according to the records.
The Sheriff’s Office said local police, corrections officials and prosecutors “did their best to hold this person accountable for his domestic violent assault, including taking the case to a grand jury.”