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ICE: Man accused of murdering Seattle father is in US illegally, has long criminal history

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SEATTLE -- A suspect arrested for shooting and killing a man in Seattle's South Park neighborhood was in the country illegally and has a long history of violent crime, according to officials.

Sam Nang Lam, 56, was sleeping on the living room couch when bullets started flying early Nov. 3, killing the father of five.

Seattle police said 25-year-old Julio Cruz-Velazquez was arrested in SeaTac on Nov. 7. He was taken into custody after a traffic stop with assistance from Tukwila Police.

Cruz-Velazquez is charged with first-degree murder. Bail was set at $2 million.

According to U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Cruz-Velazquez has a significant criminal history dating back as far as 2000. The charges included rape, domestic violence, burglary, DUI, malicious mischief, failure to comply and assault.

ICE officials say sanctuary policies, like in King County, block the agency's ability to do its job.

“Local law enforcement failed the public in this case on multiple occasions,” said Nathalie Asher, Seattle Field Office Director, ICE, Enforcement and Removal Operations. “Prior to Julio Cruz-Velazquez’s most recent arrest for murder, ICE lodged detainers on him twice. Had those detainers been honored, or had ICE been notified on any of the other multiple occasions he was arrested and released from local jails, we would have taken him into custody.  Regrettably, politics continues to prevail over public safety. The detainers were ignored and Cruz-Velazquez was released to the street.”

“Because of this recklessness, a man who immigrated legally to the U.S. has lost his life, allegedly at the hands of a repeat criminal and immigration offender. This is yet another death that could have been prevented, had local law enforcement cooperated with ICE toward the common goal of public safety, as we have so effectively done in years past.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine says the county is following the letter of the law:

“ICE is now on a public relations offensive against jurisdictions that follow the rule of law, alerting the media to instances when agents send civil Immigration Detainers that are prohibited by county policy. ICE is fully aware that if they present a valid criminal warrant issued by a U.S. District Court Judge or Magistrate, the county would comply. To be clear, we do not hold people against their will in our detention facilities unless ordered to do so by a judge. We will continue to honor the Constitution, rather than the extrajudicial orders of any person, including the President.”

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