The Associated Press reported that law enforcement officials in Hudson County, N.J., tipped off U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in October that Sanchez might be eligible for deportation. At that time, Sanchez had been working as an unpaid intern in Menendez's office. The Associated Press report also included an anonymous official who said Homeland Security officials instructed ICE agents to wait until after the election because the arrest was potentially "high profile." Sanchez was reportedly arrested by ICE agents on Dec. 6.
"According to a U.S. official cited in the AP story, upon being notified by ICE officials in New Jersey about the possibility of arresting Sanchez, 'DHS instructed them not to arrest Sanchez until after the November election,' " Chaffetz writes in the letter. "The AP goes on to report that ICE officials then 'complained that the delay was inappropriate, but DHS directed them several times not to act.'
"Another disturbing issue brought to light by the AP was the revelation that Sanchez was not only residing in the United States illegally but also was a registered sex offender. According to the Hudson County, N.J., prosecutor's office, Sanchez was found to have violated the law in 2010, which subsequently led to him registering as a sex offender."
Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Relations, asked the Department of Homeland Security to prepare a written explanation by Jan. 3, 2013. The statement, Chaffetz writes, should say whether immigration agents were directed by Homeland Security officials to not arrest Sanchez before the election, how many registered sex offenders in the United States are illegal immigrants, and how many registered sex offenders were arrested by Homeland Security and ICE since 2003.
Chaffetz also requests in the letter that Homeland Security Department officials be available to answer any questions from himself or his staff by Jan. 3.
Menendez, who has been an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, said on Thursday, that the news spoke "volumes of how much we need" to address immigration in the United States.
Read the letter below: