Official at a Virginia county jail released an illegal immigrant rather than turn him over to the federal government due to the county’s policy of “noncooperation” with federal immigration agents, the federal government said on Friday.

Prince William County, located just southwest of Washington, D.C., “released an inmate Sept. 29, who was wanted for felony charges of illegal entry, despite an active criminal warrant for his arrest,” the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement posted on its website.

The Prince William County Police Department last month detained the 25-year-old on charges of assaulting a family member. The suspect last year had been charged with illegal reentry into the country, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. ICE last month lodged an immigration detainer with the county upon the suspect’s detainment there. 

Yet the county “did not honor either the immigration detainer or the criminal warrant and released [the suspect] into the community.” The decision was made as part of the county’s “noncooperation policy,” one that “bars the Prince William County Jail from cooperating with ICE when officers lodge immigration detainers for individuals in local custody who are in violation of immigration law.”

The county “previously worked closely with ICE,” the department said. 

The suspect was subsequently arrested by ICE “during a targeted enforcement operation” earlier this month in nearby Woodbridge, the department noted.

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