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Dec. 12, 2011

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Detainee Sentenced to Prison for Assaulting Immigration Agent

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – An immigration center detainee convicted of assaulting and obstructing a federal agent has been sentenced to 28 months imprisonment, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Deborah Achim, acting field office director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Enforcement Removal Operations (ICE-ERO) in San Antonio, Texas.

"Today’s sentencing sends a strong message that they are consequences for egregious behavior,” said Achim. "All assaults or threats against our employees will be aggressively investigated, and criminal charges initiated whenever possible, such as in this case. Protecting our ICE employees is paramount.”

Kemar Ramon James, 23, a Jamaican citizen who formerly had legal permanent resident status in the United States, had pleaded guilty to assaulting and obstructing an immigration agent at the Port Isabel Detention Center. However, James later withdrew his guilty plea and proceeded to trial, at which time he was convicted of the same charge in October 2011. 

In July 2010, James was in administrative custody at the Port Isabel Detention Center pending removal proceedings pending before an immigration court. On July 22, 2010, Detention center guards and agents were conducting a routine dorm search, at which time another detainee refused to follow agents’ directions. When detention officers and an ICE agent were attempting to escort that detainee out of the area, James approached the agent and stated that the other detainee was not going anywhere. One of the detention officers shifted his attention to James and gestured for James to move back from the ICE agent and the other detainee. When the detention officer placed his hand out, James slapped the officer’s hand away. At that point, the ICE agent attempted to make James step away from the other officers and the other detainee, but James swung and punched the agent in the face once, cutting the agent’s face. As other agents came to the injured agent’s assistance to restrain James, James resisted. During James’ transport away from the area, James bragged to a supervisory ICE agent that he had knocked down an ICE agent and later threatened to attack another agent. The injured agent’s injury required two stitches. 

Today, United States District Judge Hilda G. Tagle sentenced James to 28 months imprisonment for the assault. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Tagle noted James’s behavior while in immigration and federal custody, including other assaults and disruptive incidents. After completing his sentence, James will be on supervised release for three years with special a condition that he not illegally reenter the United States. James has been ordered removed by an immigration judge and will likely be removed to Jamaica after his release from federal prison. 

This case was investigated by ICE-ERO and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph T. Leonard.