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12-year-old’s murder in Houston front and center in Trump-Biden immigration debate

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(The Center Square) – A 12-year-old girl’s murder in Houston by two Venezuelan men who illegally entered the country and were released by Border Patrol agents has made national and international news with both the White House and former President Donald Trump weighing in ahead of Thursday night’s first presidential debate.

When providing an update on the case on Thursday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, a Democrat, told Channel 2 NBC News the perpetrators “should never have been released” into the country. Instead of being processed for removal, federal agents gave them ankle monitors, which Ogg said gives “the public a false sense of security.”

On June 17, Jocelyn Nungaray’s body was found in a bayou under a bridge in north Houston. The cause of death was strangulation but her body was found bound, without clothing from the waist down. Forensic evidence has yet to confirm if she was sexually assaulted, Ogg said last week. An aggressive, multi-agency investigation enabled law enforcement officers to locate and arrest her alleged murderers three days later – 22- and 26-year-old Venezuelan men who were illegally in the country.

They both “illegally entered the U.S. without inspection, parole or admission by a U.S. immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

Both were apprehended by Border Patrol agents near El Paso; one in March, the other in May. Both were released on the same day they were apprehended, on an order of recognizance with a “notice to appear” before an immigration judge at a future date, according to ICE.

They currently have immigration holds and are being held in Harris County Jail on $10 million bonds each.

As the investigation continues, Ogg said the Venezuelan government “is not cooperating with the American government right now,” refusing to provide any information about their backgrounds or criminal history. Because they entered the country illegally, she said that makes them a flight risk.

“The bigger problem is our immigration system, the border broken for decades,” she continued. “What’s different is we’re seeing people from other countries” illegally enter the country in recent years under the Biden administration, she said. They’re not just coming from Mexico but “from China, from the islands, from South America, like these individuals. That’s new. And I think it’s increasing the risk factor for regular people here.”

She also addressed the Biden administration’s policy of “catch and release,” one first implemented by the Obama administration and halted by Trump. Instead of processing inadmissible illegal foreign nationals for removal, Border Patrol agents have been ordered to release them into the U.S. with “notice to appear” documents to appear before an immigration judge at a court date years into the future, The Center Square has reported.

They are also given ankle monitors, cell phones for federal agents to reportedly be able to track and locate them. But officials have found the phones are thrown away and the ankle monitors are cut off, as was the case in Houston.

“These two guys were both on ICE holds and they had ankle monitors,” Ogg said. “One of them cut it off. The ankle monitors give the public a false sense of security. We don’t rely on them as prosecutors because we see too many problems with folks who are supposed to be under supervision and yet aren’t. And that’s the case with these two guys.

“They should have never been released when they crossed over in El Paso. But we have a broken system, and Jocelyn’s death resulted. And it’s just hard when, you know, something could have been prevented. Like a child’s death. They’re always horrible. But this one in particular was so brutal, this, little girl endured. What? No. Nobody should have to endure.”

In response to Jocelyn’s murder, Trump said on Truth Social, “We have a new Biden Migrant Killing – It’s only going to get worse, and it’s all Crooked Joe Biden’s fault. He’s a disgrace to the Office of President, he’s a disgrace to America. I look forward to seeing him at the Fake Debate on Thursday. Let him explain why he has allowed MILLIONS of people to come into our Country illegally!”

In response, Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt said, “Donald Trump is making Americans less safe by blocking the border deal.” The administration has blamed Trump for a failed Senate border bill that Senate Democrats voted against even bringing to the floor for a hearing, The Center Square reported.

The alleged Venezuelan perpetrators were among millions who have illegally entered the country who under the law are prohibited entry but were apprehended by Border Patrol agents and released into the country, or were granted entry through new parole programs, all created by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

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