Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez employed a young illegal immigrant in his office who is a registered sex offender and whose arrest was allegedly delayed until after the elections, according to a US. official as quoted in an Associated Press report.
Wednesday, Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard said the notion that HS delayed the arrest for the elections is "categorically false."
However Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, 18, from Peru, was arrested in front of his home in Hudson County, New Jersey on Dec. 6, according to federal agents.
Menendez, who was elected with 58 percent of the vote, said his staff was only notified about the case on Monday and that he had learned about the case from a news report. The Democrat claims he knew nothing about whether DHS delayed the arrest and stated that his staff asks interns whether they are in the country legally but cannot check to be sure.
It is not clear why a United States Senator lacks the ability to confirm whether their staff are in the U.S. legally. Zavaleta worked as an "unpaid" intern for the senator.
"We certainly wouldn't have known through any background checks since he is a minor about any sex offender status," Menendez said in an interview Wednesday with MSNBC. "Once it came to our attention, our New Jersey staff director let the young man go."
According to the AP report, authorities in Hudson County notified ICE agents in early October that they suspected Sanchez was an illegal immigrant who was a registered sex offender and who may be eligible to be deported. ICE agents in New Jersey notified superiors at the Homeland Security Department because they considered it a potentially high profile arrest, and DHS instructed them not to arrest Sanchez until after the November election, one U.S. official told the AP.
The AP report does not state what the 18-year-old alleged sex offender does for the Democratic senator and because he is a minor, the sex charges filed against him are not available to reporters.