Photo: Getty Images/Drew Angerer
An intern for Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., was an undocumented immigrant and a registered sex offender whose arrest was delayed by federal immigration officials just before the election, the Associated Press reports.
The Department of Homeland Security pushed the arrest back six weeks after some officials with the agency said they were worried the case might grab too many headlines before Menendez’s re-election run, according to the AP.
The AP story, which cites internal agency documents provided to Congress, is long and rather complex, but the basic facts are these:
- Luis Abraham Sanchez Zavaleta, an 18-year-old Peruvian immigrant, first entered the country on a visitor visa, which has since expired, according to the AP.
- Last summer, he applied for the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would have allowed him to stay in the U.S. legally for two years. He didn’t tell immigration officials he was a registered sex offender, and his application was denied, according to the AP.
- He was charged with aggravated sexual assault in 2009 – for allegedly attacking a young boy at least 8 times – at the age of 15, according to the AP. He got two years of probation and had to register as a sex offender.
- In September, he began working for Menendez’s Newark office as an unpaid intern.
- Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials in Newark had planned to arrest Sanchez on Oct. 25, but were then adviced by New Jersey ICE officials to postpone the arrest.
- Menendez, a Democratic Senator from New Jersey, was easily re-elected on Nov. 8 with 58 per cent of the vote.
- Immigration officials arrested Sanchez in front of his New Jersey home on Dec. 6.
- The AP broke the story on December 12.
- The next day, Menendez’s staff told him about Sanchez. His staff told the AP, as well as Roll Call, that they hadn’t known about Menendez’s immigration status or prior crimes.
Assistant DHS Secretary Nelson Peacock denied the AP’s allegations in a letter on Monday, stating that Sanchez’s arrest was not delayed “for political purposes.”
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