U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials placed detainers on three restaurant employees accused of gang-raping a woman in New Jersey’s Bergen County while she was “incapacitated and physically helpless.”
Rene Jimenez, Emeterio Castelan and Luis Tenecela were arrested Tuesday after police responded to the woman’s 911 call on February 5. The three men are accused of sexually assaulting the woman in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The trio’s immigration status could not be determined Sunday.
The immigrants were charged with counts of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual contact, according to a press release Wednesday from acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo.
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“Upon arrival, an adult female reported that she had just been sexually assaulted,” the press release stated. “An investigation revealed that the victim was sexually assaulted by Rene Jimenez, Luis Tenecela and Emeterio Castelan while she was incapacitated and physically helpless.”
ICE placed detainers on the three men, the Rutherford Daily Voice reported Friday.
Tenecela is from Ecuador, and Jimenez and Castelan both hail from Mexico. The three men are being held in the Bergen County Jail until their detention hearing on Monday.
Newly inaugurated New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, pledged to make the state a “sanctuary state” that protects illegal immigrants from deportation and limits its cooperation with ICE and its federal mandates.
Murphy rejected President Donald Trump’s emphasis on immigration enforcement and border security throughout New Jersey’s 2017 gubernatorial campaign trail, saying during a debate in October, “We will stand up to this president.”
“If need be, we will be a sanctuary — not just city, but state,” Murphy said. “This is America. The America I know is the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty.”
Murphy even went so far as to propose the creation of an agency that would shield illegal immigrants, called the Immigrant Defensive Protection agency.
“It would be a place where everybody could call with questions about their status,” Murphy told The Washington Post on January 15. “Our guess is it’s going to be legal services-oriented. One remarkable thing, and you probably have seen this — the rumors that swirl around communities are extraordinary, and it’s literally hard to get, particularly if you’re undocumented — the right answer to your question. That’s when people go back into the shadows.”