Prince William County on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — a final push to get the agency to release information on an investigation into Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano, an illegal immigrant charged with killing a nun and injuring two others in a drunken-driving accident.
The lawsuit asks DHS to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request that Prince William officials filed in November when county supervisors and Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R) raised questions on how an illegal immigrant who had two previous drunk driving convictions was able to be released back into the community and allegedly commit another offense that killed Sister Denise Mosier, 66, and injured two of her sisters in the Benedictine order.
“The federal government did not uphold its responsibility to protect its citizens,” Stewart said. “Now they have the audacity to ignore a request of information that Prince William County has every right to. This lawsuit ... is a result of the federal government’s lack of cooperation and arrogance.”
The lawsuit not only requests details of the investigation that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of DHS, did into Martinelly-Montano’s case, but also any new information uncovered during the preparation of the report. County officials also want a record of all contact made between DHS, ICE and Martinelly-Montano.
:Stewart said ICE cited privacy concerns when denying the county’s previous request. ICE officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
“It makes no sense whatsoever,” Stewart said of ICE’s response to the initial request. “If you are a U.S. citizen, you have no right to keep your name out of the paper when you commit a crime. My belief is they are hiding some very embarrassing information on how they are releasing criminal illegal aliens.”
County officials had also requested in their FOIA that ICE release details on the whereabouts of the roughly 3,000 illegal immigrants whose names Prince William has turned over to the agency. County officials chose to try other “administrative remedies” before taking legal action for that information. If ICE does not eventually comply, a second lawsuit will be filed, Stewart said.
He said county taxpayers will bear “no incremental cost” for the legal action because it will be handled by the county internally with no outside counsel.