An Oregon sheriff has defended his county's decision to release a man who has previously been deported from the United States 20 times.
Sergio Jose Martinez allegedly sexually assaulted a woman and stole her car on July 25, just eight days after being released from jail on July 17, OPB reported.
But Mike Reese, sheriff of Multnomah County, said the authorities had no other option but to release the man.
"This terrible incident is concerning for everyone," Reese stated, according to OPB. "We held the defendant until he could not be legally held any longer."
Under Oregon's sanctuary law, local resources can only be used to enforce federal immigration law when an individual has committed a criminal offense, not including entering the country illegally.
"Prior to his release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had not sent a criminal warrant, signed by a judge, allowing MCSO to hold the defendant in jail," Reese added. "Instead, they processed a civil detainer, which they know cannot be legally used in Oregon."
Reese went on to question why Immigration and Customs Enforcement had not taken action sooner.
"Given this defendant's repeated deportations following criminal convictions in the United States, it would help our community to understand how he was held accountable by federal authorities for multiple, illegal reentries," Reese added.
Martinez, who was allegedly carrying a knife and had assaulted another woman, was detained by police. He is in custody awaiting 13 felony charges, including first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping.
The Oregon case comes as Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced further measures against "sanctuary" cities -- jurisdictions which refuse to use local resources to enforce federal immigration law.
The Department of Justice announced two new conditions for one of its main grant programs July 25. The first condition requires local jurisdictions receiving federal funds to allow ICE officers access to local jails. The second condition stipulates that local jurisdictions must give federal authorities 48 hours notice before releasing an undocumented immigrant from a local jail.
Sessions declared that sanctuary cities encourage illegal immigration and argued that the July 23 death of 10 overheated immigrants in a trailer in San Antonio, Texas, was a "tragic consequence" of sanctuary policies.
"So-called 'sanctuary' policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes," Sessions said in a statement, according to Politico.
Critics of Sessions counter that immigrant communities will be less likely to report crimes and identify suspects to local police officers if those same officers are used to enforce federal immigration laws.