ICE de­fends not de­tain­ing sus­pect in as­sault on girl,

Mex­i­can na­tive skipped jury trial on charges he sex­u­ally as­saulted girl.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ryan Au­tullo rautullo@states­man.com ICE

A Mex­i­can cit­i­zen who had been re­moved from the United States for il­le­gal en­try skipped his Travis County jury trial last week on al­le­ga­tions that he sex­u­ally as­saulted a 10-year-old girl.

Luis Ramirez-Bara­hona’s ab­sence raises ques­tions about why Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment did not file a de­tainer re­quest and en­sure that he re­mained in cus­tody af­ter his 2015 ar­rest. In a state­ment to the Amer­i­can-States­man, ICE de­fended its de­ci­sion be­cause of “en­force­ment pri­or­i­ties at the time.”

An ICE spokes­woman de­clined to elab­o­rate.

Court records show the Travis County sher­iff’s of­fice is­sued a war­rant March 20 for the ar­rest of Ramirez-Bara­hona and filed charges for bond for­fei­ture, a third-de­gree felony. He had faith­fully at­tended his pre­trial hear­ings, ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors with the Travis County district at­tor­ney’s of­fice. ICE’s state­ment says it is “pur­su­ing leads to ef­fect the ar­rest of Ramirez-Bara­hona and will place an im­mi­gra­tion de­tainer on him upon his re-ar­rest.”

Ramirez-Bara­hona, 31, was out of jail on a $30,000 bond. He faces up to 99 years in prison on charges of ag­gra­vated sex­ual as­sault of a child and in­de­cency with a child by con­tact.

“I feared this would hap­pen,” said the fa­ther of the girl who al­leged that she was as­saulted. “We worked so hard to pre­pare for this date, yet the closer the day came, I had a feel­ing he wouldn’t show.”

This case is un­re­lated to ICE’s on­go­ing dis­pute with Travis County Sher­iff Sally Her­nan­dez, who en­acted a so-called sanc­tu­ary city pol­icy by re­fus­ing to sign off on ICE de­tain­ers for all but those charged with the most

Luis RamirezBara­hona could face 99 years in prison.

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