A man police said kidnapped his own daughter after murdering the girl's mother and stabbing another woman remains in Pennsylvania.
Oscar Hernandez, 39, was captured on a highway near Harrisburg, PA on Friday following a police pursuit.
Hernandez is accused of murdering 26-year-old Nidia Gonzales, stabbing a second woman and taking 6-year-old Aylyn Sofia Hernandez from a home on Greenwood Street in Bridgeport.
Arrangements were being made to bring Aylyn back to Connecticut.
Hernandez, however, is still in the custody of police in Pennsylvania.
Monday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said it would not comment any further on Hernandez.
Friday, it said Hernandez is a citizen of El Salvador. It also said he had been deported once in 2013 on assault charges stemming from 2002.
He has prior convictions for assault and threatening that date back to 2002. ICE also said he has a number of misdemeanor convictions.
ICE said it was not sure how Hernandez re-entered the country; however, it said that crime alone warrants a possible multi-year prison sentence.
Eyewitness News looked into why Hernandez wasn’t flagged when he applied legally for a license in 2008, six years after the crimes that would eventually get him deported.
The Department of Motor Vehicle said both applications were filed legally. It’s now prompting the state and ICE to investigate how it lapsed.
According to neighbors, Hernandez and his family lived at the Bridgeport home for three years.
State and local officials said Hernandez was never on their radar after he was deported, because he didn’t commit any crimes that would generate a red flag. No one knew he re-entered the country.
Eyewitness News went Mayor Joe Ganim to ask him about his relationship between ICE and his police department, and he said they ran independently of each other
“When these things become an immigration issue, past, present or future, they become really the issue of the federal government. The role of local authority, at least in the city of Bridgeport, doesn't change much,” Ganim said.
Being home to at least two sanctuary cities and several communities that will welcome undocumented immigrants, some view Connecticut as lax on immigration laws.
Connecticut allows undocumented immigrants access to drive-only licenses and for the most part, local authorities say they only get involved when alerts are raised after someone gets in trouble with the law.
In the Hernandez case, he applied legally for a driver's license in 1998. He applied again, legally, in 2008, six years after the assault charges that would eventually lead to his deportation.
The governor’s office said the state can get tough at times, saying it is committed to vigorously enforcing laws that usually result in deportation, like the Hernandez case when he was deported in 2013 for assaulting and threatening.
They point to the Trust Act also passed in 2013. When it comes to relationships with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, local police departments will detain anyone who: Is a convicted felon; Has pending criminal charges; Has an outstanding warrant in CT; Is a known gang member; Is on the terrorist screening database; Scheduled to be deported; Presents a risk to public safety.
All it takes is one of those to be met.
However, on these matters, local police departments take their orders from ICE and in Hernandez’s case, since no one knew he was back illegally, he didn't make it on anyone's radar, until, it was allegedly too late.
“This is one case. The question is does it represent a broader set of cases relating to all undocumented immigrants,” said Chris Haynes, Political Science professor at the University of New Haven.
After President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, the Bridgeport case shines the spotlight on immigration policies nationwide.
Haynes said the majority of undocumented immigrants don't commit violent crimes because they do want to stay under the radar.
State officials believe if all undocumented immigrants were open to arrest, communities wouldn't be as safe.
“There are a lot of people who may not come forward with evidence of crimes happening,” Haynes said.
We did learn that Hernandez does have a detainer placed on him, it was put there on Friday after the amber alert.
He remains in Pennsylvania, but is expected to be arraigned on a lengthy list of charges later this week.
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