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U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley Probes Federal Failures In Sterling Murder Case

October 29, 2015

LEEBURG TODAY IS REPORTING TODAY:

The three suspects in the fatal Sept. 4 shooting of a Park View High School student are now the focus of a Congressional inquiry concerning federal immigration enforcement.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, put the spotlight on the Loudoun murder case. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Grassely demanded answers to questions about the handling of the suspects' immigration cases after they were apparently ordered to be deported one month before the shooting.

A 17-year-old Mexican national has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Danny Centeno-Miranda, who was shot near a bus stop in his Sterling neighborhood while on his way to class. Charged as accessories are Henry Dominguez-Vasquez, 20, and Juan Aguirre-Zelaya, 18, both from El Salvador.

The three are scheduled for preliminary hearings in Loudoun court next week.

According to Grassley's letter, his committee was told that the three suspects entered the United States at the Texas border as unaccompanied alien children in 2013 and had been served notices to appear for a status hearing in August. When they failed to show, deportation orders were issued.

"Had these suspects appeared for their mandatory court date, they would have likely not had the opportunity to murder a 17-year-old high school student from Loudoun County," Grassley wrote.

The senator said the case is illustrative of frequent failures with federal policies and procedures.

"Unfortunately, incidents such as this have become too common," he wrote. "It is now customary to hear stories of undocumented or gang-related criminal aliens who are discretionarily released from custody, fail to honor their [notice to appear], and receive protection in sanctuary jurisdictions. As a result American citizens have been subject to preventable violent criminal acts."

"It is clear that the federal government has failed in its role to prevent great risk to the public safety," Grassley wrote in the letter released Tuesday.

Grassley asked the Department of Homeland Security to provide more detail about the suspects' travels and criminal histories, including any previous deportations or known gang affiliation. Vasquez and Zelaya are reported to have ties with the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang.

He also wants to know more about how Loudoun County handles these cases, including whether local authorities cooperate with immigration officials in turning over inmates for deportation.

He asked: "What percentage of detainers or requests for notification of release placed by [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] in each of the past five fiscal years has Loudoun County honored?"

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