Illegal immigrant approved for police ride-along — even after background check showed warrant for failure to appear in immigration court

An illegal immigrant was approved for a police ride-along in Maryland — even though a background check by Montgomery County Police revealed the man had an active warrant for failure to appear at an immigration hearing, WJLA-TV reported.

The station noted that some on the force are concerned by the revelation.
"It's not a good look for the department to be shuttling around people who are wanted by federal authorities," a police source with more than 10 years in the department told WJLA.

What are the details?

The Clarksburg resident — the station didn't identify him — in November submitted a one-page ride-along application, which included a question regarding why the applicant wants to go on the police ride-along.
The man's reply? "In order to know a little about the responsibilities and dangers of an officer," WJLA said.
Adhering to standard procedure, Montgomery County Police performed a background check on the man — and it returned an active warrant for failure to appear at an immigration court date, the station said.
A note dated Dec. 8 attached to the application said the man has a criminal history and "is 10-60 FTA for immigration deportation," WJLA said.
Still, 5th District Commander Mark Plazinski approved the ride-along, the station said.

Image source: WJLA-TV video screenshot

What did a county leader have to say about the issue?

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) has said he views immigration warrants as civil matters rather than criminal, the station said.
"This is not the role of the county government, per se, to be involved in doing this," Elrich said last summer regarding the county's strained relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, WJLA reported.

What happened after the ride-along was approved?

The ride-along was scheduled for Saturday morning, but the illegal immigrant canceled Friday — fewer than 24 hours before the start time, the station said.
"Somebody called me and told me they were not able," the illegal immigrant told WJLA by telephone Monday. "I told him, 'If there's a problem, no problem. That's no problem.' It would have been a good experience, but it's nothing I have to do."
More from the station:
The man, who is married with kids, went on to explain he is a chaplain at his Christian church. That position led him to enroll in the Montgomery County Police Department's Hispanic Community Academy. The 12-week course is taught in Spanish and aims to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the Latino community.

"Graduates of the program have used their newly-gained knowledge of MCPD to help their family, friends, and the larger Hispanic community build stronger bonds of trust with the officers of their police department," the program website states. "They continue to give back to the community through volunteer opportunities and are currently working on a project to increase pedestrian safety."
WJLA said ICE declined to comment for its story.
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