White House press secretary Sean Spicer wasn’t the only government official to conflate some issues when answering questions about the two undocumented immigrants charged with raping a fellow student at Rockville High School.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), answering questions from a television reporter after touring a police station in Annapolis, made a series of questionable comments about the case, which involved a 14-year-old victim.
According to an audiotape provided by the governor’s spokeswoman, Hogan blamed the Obama administration for the presence of the two suspects in the United States.
“It appears as if this was part of the Obama unaccompanied minor kind of amnesty program where they allowed these kids to come in,” he said. “They sent them to Montgomery County with no one being provided information.”
More than 150,000 unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Central America have crossed the border illegally over the past three years. But those who arrived during that period do not qualify for the deferred-deportation relief that President Barack Obama provided to minors who arrived in the country by 2007, or tried unsuccessfully to provide to those who arrived by 2010.
One of the two rape suspects, Henry Sanchez-Milian, 18, was caught by a Border Patrol agent in Texas seven months ago and was issued a notice to appear before a federal judge. Federal officials have declined to comment on whether they have requested a detainer for the other suspect, Jose O. Montano, saying they could not discuss his case because he is a juvenile, even though he is charged as an adult. According to court records, Montano was born in El Salvador, lived there for 16 years and also arrived in Montgomery County last year.
Hogan also lashed out at the school system for educating the two suspects, apparently unaware that federal law requires it.
“We have questions about what the individuals were doing in the school, what their status was,” he said. “I’d like to know when the Montgomery County School System knew — what they knew and when they knew it.”
A landmark 1982 Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe, held that states must offer a free public education to all students regardless of immigration status. “We serve every student that walks in our door,” Montgomery Schools Superintendent Jack Smith said at a news conference later Tuesday afternoon.
Police noted that neither suspect had any criminal charges or contact with law enforcement in the county prior to the rape.
Hogan also asked: “We want to know exactly how this was allowed to happen. Why is an 18-year-old man in a ninth grade class with 13- and 14-year-old girls?”
As Smith told reporters at the news conference, 18-year-olds, 14-year-olds and 13-year-olds are quite often under the same roof in high schools that go from ninth through 12th grade. Smith said both suspects had been in a special program for non-English speakers at the high school and had not been in classes with the victim.