A man accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend in front of her children on Christmas morning in Olney has been charged with illegally reentering the country after having been deported twice, according to unsealed court documents.
Josue Osorio-Quino, 33, is facing charges of murder and other offenses in the death of Juana Us-Perez, 35, and the stabbing of her 14-year-old son.
U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said he expects the federal case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to proceed after the local charges are settled.
McSwain has long decried Philadelphia’s “sanctuary city” status, and is pointing at Osorio-Quino as an example of why the policy should be eliminated.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said it could not comment on the case because it was ongoing, but said domestic-violence crimes show that it is important for anyone, including those who are undocumented, to feel comfortable dialing 911.
It was not clear whether the victim was undocumented at the time of her death.
McSwain and District Attorney Larry Krasner have been in open conflict when it comes to immigration.
Dozens of places across the country, such as Philadelphia, have declared themselves sanctuary jurisdictions, where local governments limit their cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Although leaders in those cities say the policy makes undocumented residents more willing to report crime and work with police, critics such McSwain say the policy is against the law.
These disagreements are playing out in legal battles, with courts in Philadelphia and as far away as California restricting the extent to which the federal government can force local officials to help ICE.
“This case is a microcosm, an example of the consequences of being a sanctuary jurisdiction,” McSwain said. “Even one crime committed by an illegal alien is a crime that can be prevented.”
There is no evidence, according to an analysis in the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the criminal justice system, that the undocumented population commits more crimes, or more violent crimes, than other people. Osorio-Quino does not have any prior criminal convictions in Philadelphia.
Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, wrote that the office wants "people of all statuses to report crime, cooperate in investigations, come to court as witnesses, and to seek help when they are threatened by a stalker or domestic abuser.”
Us-Perez was also undocumented as of October 2017, when her husband was arrested in an ICE operation targeting sanctuary jurisdictions, according to a WHYY article. It was was not clear whether she remained undocumented.
Us-Perez turned to the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, an immigrant advocacy group, for help, said Maria Turcios, an accompaniment coordinator who became her friend. The group said her husband was eventually deported.
At the time, WHYY reported Us-Perez had lived in Philadelphia for 13 years and was working as a house cleaner.
“We feel powerless,” Us-Perez told WHYY. “They are separating families.”
Us-Perez continued to stay involved in the immigrant community and was an active member of New Sanctuary, said Peter Pedemonti, the group’s codirector.
“Juana was someone who worked and fought for immigrant justice, who fought to get more people out of detention,” Pedemonti said. “To use her death to attack sanctuary cities is like spitting on her grave.”
Us-Perez’s sister and brother-in-law will take care of her five children in their three-bedroom North Jersey home, where they already were raising six children between the ages of 5 and 15, according to a GoFundMe page. The fund-raiser asks for donations because the family wants to keep the siblings together but does not have enough income to support them all.
“Juana Us-Perez was a kindhearted, hardworking single mother,” the fund-raising page reads. “She did absolutely everything for her kids, who emulate all of their mother’s best qualities — they’re happy, hardworking, respectful, caring, loving, and as close to each other as siblings can be.”
The children are grieving and do not want to speak publicly about their mother, according to a family friend.
Police said the killing began to unfold when Osorio-Quino started fighting with guests during a Christmas party. He had been “drinking heavily” and eventually directed his anger toward Us-Perez. Her son moved to help his mother, and Osorio-Quino stabbed him in a thigh, police said. Osorio-Quino then allegedly got another knife, stabbed Us-Perez, and chased her outside, where police found him standing over her body.
“This is not about sanctuary cities," Pedemonti said. "This is about alcohol abuse. This is about masculinity. This is about gender-based violence. And that is something we all need to look at. It has nothing to do with someone’s immigration status.”
When Philadelphia police arrested Osorio-Quino and scanned his fingerprints, ICE received an electronic notification alerting it the fingerprints matched someone in the agency’s records, according to court documents. Those records showed ICE had twice deported Osorio-Quino to Guatemala.
He was first deported in May 2009 through El Paso, Texas, according to the court documents. Two months later, he was deported again, through Phoenix. ICE spokesperson Mary Houtmann said the agency didn’t know how Osorio-Quino entered a third time. The agency learned he was in Philadelphia when he was arrested in the case.