Homeland Security: no delay in arrest of Menendez intern

NJ Senator Bob Menendez, at Delaware Valley Baptist Church in Willingboro, shakes hands with supporter Charlene Ayres-Britt of Lumberton, NJ. on Nov. 6, 2012, APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security denied a report today that they delayed arresting an intern working for Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.).

The intern, the Associated Press reported, was an illegal immigrant from Peru who was registered as a sex offender in New Jersey, though the crime in that case was unclear. The story said Homeland Security asked to have the arrest delayed until after Election Day -- when Menendez was re-elected -- but a spokesman denied that element of the story.

"The report is categorically false. ICE followed standard process in coordination with its federal partners and local prosecutors before taking appropriate enforcement action," said Peter Boogaard, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman.

A Menendez spokeswoman said the intern, Luis Sanchez, worked in the Senator's Newark office for two months.

"No staff member responsible for managing the internship program had reason to believe, based on their interview process, that Sanchez had any criminal background or immigration issues. Cleary Mr. Sanchez sought to deceive our staff," said a statement from Tricia Enright, Menendez's spokeswoman. "Upon notification from authorities of his arrest, Mr. Sanchez’s relationship with our office immediately ended. Senator Menendez was briefed on the situation today – and he is appalled. He has no tolerance for those who violate the law and expects the authorities to continue to prosecute the case. Senator Menendez believes this incident underscores the reason we need comprehensive immigration reform that provides zero tolerance for those who have criminal records."

Menendez himself spoke about the issue on MSNBC earlier today.