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Latino Daily News

Thursday January 27, 2011

“Secure Communities” Fails 8-year-old Rape Victim

“Secure Communities” Fails 8-year-old Rape Victim

Photo: Salvador Portillo-Saravia

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

As many people praise the use of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) data-sharing program “Secure Communities,”  some are now saying it failed to actually secure the community from an alleged rapist.

The day after Christmas, an 8-year-old girl confided in her mother that family “friend” Salvador Portillo-Saravia, a MS-13 street gang member, raped her in her Fairfax County home in Virginia before quietly exiting the home. What makes the situation more disturbing is the fact that Portillo should not have been a free man in the first place. In 2003, he was deported to El Salvador by federal officials after it was discovered he was not authorized to be in the country. However, he unlawfully crossed back into the U.S. Then just four weeks before the reported rape, Portillo-Saravia was arrested in Virginia’s Loudoun County for public intoxication. At this point the Secure Communities file-sharing and finger printing program should have identified him as a unauthorized immigrant, and he should have been taken into custody, but that did not happen.

Loudoun authorities did run Portillo-Saravia’s fingerprints through the federal database, but despite the 2003 deportation, nothing came up. Just twelve hours later, he was released.

Immigration and Secure Communities officials say the lack of results when running Portillo-Saravia’s prints was due to a gap in the IDENT electronic fingerprinting system and a lack of understanding of how it works. They pointed out that a number of people deported before 2005 are not included in the database, including Portillo-Saravia.

Spokesman for ICE, Brian P. Hale said that after Loudoun officials received a “no match” from the database, they should have requested a manual records check or contacted ICE if they suspected an immigration violation.

Officials in Maryland and Virginia say they were unaware of the gap, including Loudoun’s Sheriff Stephen Simpson, who said he was frustrated by Hale’s response, and was under the impression that Secure Communities eliminated the need for additional investigation into a person’s status.

“Nobody’s ever heard of calling for a manual check. The point of the program was it replaced the need to do what they now say we should have done, “ adding, “We did everything we were supposed to do.”

Area police are still searching for 29-year-old Portillo-Saravia, of Sterling, Va., with warrants on felony rape and sodomy.