MS-13 gang murder of Maryland autistic woman sparks Biden administration investigation
MS-13 gang murder of Maryland autistic woman sparks Biden administration investigationAnna Giaritelli
February 28, 06:00 AM February 28, 06:00 AM
EXCLUSIVE — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) has demanded two Biden Cabinet officials explain how an MS-13 gang member who was charged in the murder of an autistic Maryland woman was allowed into the United States after illegally crossing the border, according to a letter obtained exclusively by the Washington Examiner.
Jordan asked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in letters sent late Monday to provide detailed information about an El Salvador immigrant who federal officials knew was a gang member but was let out of custody by both departments and allowed to live in the U.S.
BIDEN’S INTEREST IN TACKLING FENTANYL COULD ‘UNITE’ CONGRESS, REPUBLICAN SAYS
“The Biden Administration’s open-border policies have created vulnerabilities that criminal aliens and gang members exploit to the detriment of American citizens,” Jordan and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), chairman of an immigration subcommittee, wrote in a letter to Becerra. “Pursuant to the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee on the Judiciary is authorized to conduct oversight of federal immigration policy and procedures.”
The decision to investigate follows pleas from the victim Kayla Hamilton’s mother, Tammy Nobles, to explain why a known criminal slipped through the immigration system and onto the streets of Aberdeen, Maryland, before killing the 20-year-old woman in her bedroom. The Republicans cited the Washington Examiner’s reporting in their letters to the Biden administration.
The suspect, whose name has not been released because of his age, was apprehended in Rio Grande City, Texas, in March 2022 and taken into custody by federal Border Patrol agents. As is protocol, the suspect was turned over to HHS, which is tasked by Congress with caring for unaccompanied children and finding sponsors to release them to within the U.S.
“The suspect was arrested at the border in Rio Grande City, Texas,” Nobles previously told the Washington Examiner. “We do not know if his background was checked or not.”
Police in Aberdeen learned earlier this year that he was an MS-13 gang member, but it is not known whether he was on the federal government’s radar or if federal police performed a background screening when he entered the U.S.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, did not disclose in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner in February if it screened the suspect at the border.
“CBP screens migrants utilizing a range of criteria and methods that are law enforcement sensitive,” according to a statement from CBP. “Methods for assessing the validity of migrants’ age include the collection of biometric and biographic information such as fingerprints, photos, phone numbers, addresses, and documentation provided by migrants or government agencies. Identification and age determination are also determined through background investigations, agent interviews, and consulate verification.”
While in government custody, the suspect identified a woman in Frederick, Maryland, as his aunt, according to Aberdeen police.
The suspect went to live with his aunt and then moved out and into a rented room in a three-bedroom mobile home, where Hamilton and her boyfriend lived.
Hamilton was found deceased by her boyfriend roughly half a day after she had been raped and strangled to death in her bed on July 27, 2022. Hamilton had returned home from an overnight shift at a grocery store when the suspect entered her and her boyfriend’s shared bedroom against her will.
Noble said her daughter loved her siblings and had been excited to start her own life with her boyfriend.
Republicans asked Becerra to turn over HHS’s case file on the suspect, including when he entered HHS and left DHS custody, information on its efforts to reunite him with a family member in the country, if and how HHS attempted to verify the suspect’s claim that he was a minor, if, how, and when it learned of the suspect’s MS-13 gang status, and if it verified that he was related to the woman who he was released to.
Mayorkas was asked for information about the suspect’s immigration history, benefits applications, consular file, and immigration status. Republicans asked that DHS share all information that agents learned about the suspect when he was first intercepted.
Jordan and McClintock gave the secretaries until March 13 to provide responses.