Two days after he was released from local custody on a summons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested the man who allegedly fatally struck a 7-year-old boy crossing the street in Egg Harbor City.
Jorge Rodriguez-Saldana, 30, was arrested for immigration violations July 13 by ICE in Horsham, Pennsylvania, according to the federal agency.
The Mexico native, who was in the United States illegally, was charged locally with causing death while driving without a license when he struck a woman and her two grandchildren July 11 as they crossed the White Horse Pike near Buffalo Avenue. The child, Marco Yu, was pronounced dead at the scene. The grandmother was transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus in Atlantic City, with life-threatening injuries.
Local authorities did not refer the case to ICE, according to a release from the agency.
“Unfortunately this is another example that makes apparent the significant public safety concerns the NJ AG Directive limiting cooperation with ICE poses,” said John Tsoukaris, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Newark.
In November, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued the Immigrant Trust Directive, limiting the voluntary assistance local and county law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities.
Grewal has said people are far less likely to report a crime to police if they fear the officer may turn them over to ICE.
Mayor Lisa Jiampetti said the city was notified of the arrest by ICE soon after it happened.
“I don’t know what transpired between the Police Department, State Police and Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, but I’m happy they were able to apprehend him,” Jiampetti said. “Our Police Department does have a good relationship with ICE.”
Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said Rodriguez-Saldana was never in the county jail.
“That fellow was never in our lockup,” Levinson said. “We obey the law. ... I can tell you unequivocally that we follow the guidelines as set down.”
Jiampetti said she just finished a letter to the state Department of Transportation asking for the speed limit in the area where the fatality happened to be dropped down to 25 mph from 35. She is also requesting better lighting and for more crosswalks and striping to be painted across Route 30, a state highway.
“It’s such a dilapidated section of Route 30,” Jiampetti said. “It is highly trafficked and narrow.”
She said this weekend the county government will be installing signs on the pike at Hamburg and Bremen avenues alerting drivers to the need to slow down.