The Department Homeland Security has announced that an unpaid intern working for New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez is both an illegal immigrant and a registered sex offender, according to CBS News’s Crime Insider blog. But that’s only half the story. The real heat comes in the last sentence of the first paragraph, which reveals that Homeland Security “instructed federal agents not to arrest the teen until after Election Day.”
The 18-year-old Peru native, Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in front of his home in New Jersey on Dec. 6. Sanchez, who entered the country on a now-expired visitor visa, is facing deportation and remains in custody.
State authorities notified ICE agents in early October, saying that they suspected Sanchez of being in the country illegally and of being a sex offender to boot. Following standard operating procedure, ICE notified superiors at Homeland Security but were told to hold off on the arrest until after the election. ICE officials protested that the delay was inappropriate, but DHS directed them several times to stand down.
CBS notes that during the final weeks of President George W. Bush’s second term, ICE was criticized for delaying the arrest of Barack Obama’s aunt, who had ignored an immigration judge’s order to leave the country several years earlier after her asylum claim was denied.
Menendez was asked about the scandal by MSNBC. He responded, “We certainly wouldn’t have known through any background checks since he is a minor about any sex offender status.” Then again, since the senator’s staff asks interns whether they are in the country legally and accept at face value the answer they receive, it is highly unlikely they would have learned the truth even if Sanchez were not a minor.
Menendez is an avid supporter of pro-immigration policies and was re-elected in November with 58 percent of the vote.
He is a Democrat.
Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, and The George Espenlaub Show.
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