Montgomery Co. officials vow to work with ICE in school rape case

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Following last week’s brutal rape at Rockville High School, Montgomery County officials are promising to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Both accused attackers are subjects of possible deportation. But despite the county’s promises, there are questions over its policy when it comes to federal immigration enforcement.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett says news of the violent rape in a school restroom on Thursday made him feel “sick and disgusted,” and, in a written statement, Leggett said that following any criminal conviction and sentencing on the charges, “the county — consistent with our long-standing policy — will cooperate fully with ICE to see that the two are deported to their countries of origin.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement says a detainer has been lodged against Henry Sanchez, 18, who is a citizen of Guatemala. It would not discuss the immigration status of the second student suspect Jose Montano, 17, because he’s a minor. But Leggett’s statement says both individuals have ICE orders against them.

Sanchez, of the Aspen Hill neighborhood of Rockville, Maryland, and Montano have been charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offense in the violent assault of the female student.

The victim told police she was walking in a school hallway at about 9 a.m. Thursday when the two students approached her, according to charging documents. Montano asked her twice to have sex, and after she refused, he forced her into a boys’ bathroom and then into a stall, police said.

WTOP has a policy of not naming minors charged with crimes but Montano is being charged as an adult.

Despite Leggett’s vow of cooperation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lists Montgomery County among the jurisdictions nationwide that limit cooperation with ICE. The agency’s weekly report of Enforcement and Removal Operations blames Leggett’s October 2014 policy, which states that the county will not honor ICE detainers without adequate probable cause.

County Council President Roger Berliner is also promising cooperation with federal authorities following what he calls “a horrible crime.”

“We cooperate with ICE when it comes to people who do terrible things,” Berliner said.

The Department of Homeland Security says that Sanchez was intercepted by a border patrol agent in Rio Valley Grande, Texas, last August. According to Matthew Bourke, of the Office of Public Affairs for DHS, Sanchez was given a notice to appear before an immigration judge.  No such appearance took place.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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