Local man charged with kidnapping on immigration hold

BY BETH BRATSOS | APRIL 04, 2012 6:30 AM

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Local officials say it is not uncommon for immigration officials to place a hold on people in custody at the jail.

Peng Tang, an Iowa City man charged last week with first-degree kidnapping and sexual assault, was placed in an immigration hold at the jail.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials can place an immigrant on hold to seek custody once he or she is released from jail, said a county jail official who declined to be named. The inmate may be interviewed by officials at the immigration office, who will decide whether to release him.

Currently, Tang is in custody on a $750,000 cash-only bond and immigration hold.

His is not a unique case, the official said. A number of people in custody at the jail are held for immigration officials.

Officials were unable to provide the number of immigrants currently on hold at the jail.

Tang was arrested March 30 for reportedly sexually assaulting a woman while viewing her apartment as a potential sublease, according to an Iowa City police press release. The victim was showing Tang her apartment when he allegedly locked her in the bedroom and tied her hands behind her back.

The release said he stuffed a towel in her mouth and assaulted her, taking explicit photos of the victim, threatening to post them on the Internet if she informed police.

Iowa City police Lt. Kevin Heick said the police officials do not often deal with cases involving immigrants.

"It's a federal law," he said. "If we deal with it, we call the federal immigration people."

Inmates released to the custody of immigration offices may or may not be legal and are sometimes released on bond from there.

William Gheen, the president of Americans for Legal Immigration, said new immigration laws will not deport an illegal immigrant unless that person commits a crime.

Officials have not indicated Pang's immigration status.

Tang's preliminary hearing for has been set for 2 p.m. April 9 in the Johnson County Courthouse. He will be held at the jail until that time. If released on bond prior to the hearing, Tang would be turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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