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High school rape suspect's dad arrested after immigration review

Last Updated Mar 28, 2017 11:04 AM EDT

JESSUP, Md. -- Immigration officials say the father of a high school student charged with raping a 14-year-old girl in a school bathroom in Maryland has been arrested after a review of his status in the United States.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement Monday that 43-year-old Adolfo Sanchez-Reyes was arrested Friday, CBS Washington, D.C., affiliate WUSA-TV reports. She says a review of Sanchez-Reyes’ immigration history shows that he is in the United States illegally.

Officials say Sanchez-Reyes and his son, 18-year-old Henry Sanchez, are Guatemalan nationals.

Henry Sanchez and 17-year-old Jose Montano were charged with raping a student at Rockville High School on March 16.

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Henry Sanchez (inset), an undocumented immigrant accused of raping a Maryland girl in a Rockville High School (background) bathroom on March 16, 2017.

CBS affiliate WUSA

The ICE spokeswoman says Sanchez-Reyes is being held in the Howard County Detention Center and was ordered to appear in immigration court.

The high-school rape has become part of a national debate on immigration.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, in response to a reporter’s question at a March 21 press briefing, called the crime “shocking, disturbing, horrific.”

“I think part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this,” he said.

Matthew Bourke, spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement that a U.S. Border Patrol agent encountered Sanchez in Texas in August. Sanchez was ordered to appear before an immigration judge, Bourke said, but that appearance has not been scheduled. ICE has since lodged an immigration detainer against Sanchez.

According to court records, Montano, who was charged as an adult, was born in El Salvador, where he lived for 16 years. ICE officials would not discuss Montano’s immigration status because he is a juvenile.

Jack Smith, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, pushed back against the focus on the immigration status of the accused students.

“Some try to make this into an issue of immigration,” Smith said at a news conference Tuesday. “We would like to change the conversation.”

While expressing horror at the crime and repeatedly assuring parents that their children are safe at school, Smith said, “We serve every student who walks in the door. It is not only the right thing to do, it is the law.”

On Monday, Maryland’s House of Delegates approved a measure to prevent authorities from detaining immigrants to ask about their immigration status.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said on WBAL radio that the crime represents a “worst-case scenario.” He said the bill would prevent Maryland from cooperating with immigration authorities.

He vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

Preliminary hearings are set for Montano on March 31 and April 14 for Sanchez.