It appears judges are now helping illegal immigrants escape to long arm of ICE, according to authorities.
On January 27, 22-year-old Diddier Pacheco Salazar had a court appearance before Oregon judge Monica Herranz. There, he plead guilty to the charge of driving while under the influence of intoxicants.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were waiting to arrest him. But, he’d fled the courtroom using a court employee exit. Now, federal prosecutors are accusing the Multnomah County Circuit Court judge of helping the Mexican national escape.
Salazar had come into the US by illegally crossing the border. ICE was there to arrest him and send him back. He fled in order to avoid being arrested and sent back to Mexico.
U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said the illegal immigrant couldn’t have done it on his own– he had to have had help.
And suspicion turned to Herring, a Hispanic.
“I thought it was inappropriate, I thought it was unprofessional,” Williams said. “I strongly believe that it just cannot happen again.”
But he said he can’t say for sure whether it was the judge, who was acting as a court referee at the time Salazar escaped.
“I don’t know exactly what the referee did inside the courtroom,” Williams said.
The court’s supervising judge told the station that the presence of ICE agents in a courtroom tends to create a chilling effect.
“We don’t quibble with the fact that they have a job to do,” Judge Nan Waller told KOIN in a phone interview. “However, it would be nice if they were not inside the courthouse.”
Williams said he understands that Judge Waller “would like courthouses to be sensitive in areas,” but “I think that’s unlikely” to happen.
ICE agents finally caught up with Pacheco and arrested him on February 10 outside of court.
“We are willing, in effect, to not pursue a criminal investigation,” Williams said.
Herranz, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association, declined to comment on the case.