Honduran, 24, admitted into U.S. posing as minor, charged with killing sponsor, Florida father of 4
"He should have never been in this country, to begin with," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week. "And definitely should not have been dumped in the state of Florida."
At a border security summit in Del Rio, Texas in July, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis learned from Florida law enforcement officials that the majority of illegal border crossers arrested in Val Verde County at the time, roughly 70%, said their destination was Florida.
One of them, it turns out, was Yery Noel Medina Ulloa, a 24-year-old Honduran national. Ulloa entered the U.S. illegally several months ago through Texas, pretending to be an unaccompanied minor. He was then transferred by federal authorities to Florida, where he was arrested last month for killing his sponsor, a 46-year-old father of four.
Ulloa told ICE officials he was 17-year-old Reynel Alexander Hernandez, Noticiero Univision reported. Because he claimed to be an unaccompanied minor, Ulloa was not deported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers reportedly neglected to verify his age or his real identity.
"When he entered [the U.S.] he told me, 'Mommy, I didn't go in with my name,'" his mother, Wendy Florencia Ulloa, told Univision. "'I went in with the name of another person because right there at the shelter they helped me."
In the wake of the Biden administration's reversal of Trump-era immigration policies, which included expelling unaccompanied minors, 146,925 unaccompanied minors have been encountered in FY21, according to data compiled by Customs and Border Protection. Among them, the Biden administration had lost track of at least 45,000 of them.
Under current policy, an unaccompanied minor is processed at a Border Patrol facility and transferred to Department of Health and Human Services, where they are held until they are placed with a sponsor. In more than 80% of cases, the unaccompanied minor has a family member in the U.S. In this case, the minor was an adult and was not placed with a family member.
According to news reports, Ulloa was detained in Texas, given a "Notice to Appear" to an immigration hearing, and transported to Florida on one of the many federally orchestrated flights that are shipping minors out of Texas into the U.S. interior.
Ulloa was placed in the home of a sponsor, Francisco Javier Cuellar, 46, a father of four, who took him in, believing he was a destitute 17-year-old. He also gave him a job at his family business, the La Raza Mexican Store.
The repayment for Cuellar's kindness was murder, if the allegations against Ulloa hold up.
Home security cameras showed Ulloa "stabbing the victim numerous times and repeatedly hitting him with a chair," the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office warrant states.
Ulloa called a friend to confess and texted "that he had 'killed Uncle Francisco,'" according to the warrant. ("Uncle" was a fond moniker Ulloa used for Cuellar, who was not his biological uncle.)
Ulloa was arrested Oct. 7 and initially placed in a juvenile detention facility. One week later, police did what ICE officials apparently failed to do — learned his real identity and real age.
DeSantis, who has already sued the Biden administration over its "catch and release" policy, says his office is investigating how Ulloa arrived in Jacksonville.
"He should have never been in this country, to begin with," DeSantis said last week at a press conference for an unrelated event. "And definitely should not have been dumped in the state of Florida.
"What the Biden administration is doing, they're flying in people who came illegally, dumping a lot in Jacksonville in the middle of the night. And there was an individual who had posed as a 17-year-old, actually was in the mid-twenties, brought here, had been here, ended up committing a murder.
"These are middle-of-the-night flights. No notification to the state or anybody. This is not the way you keep people safe. It's reckless, and it's wrong."
DeSantis said he was going to ask the state legislature "to see what can we do to make sure they can't just do this with impunity."
The governor also said he was going to consider executive action in addition to actions he's already taken like, for example, Executive Order 21-223. That order was issued, according to a release from his office, to "prohibit all Florida agencies under the purview of the Governor from facilitating illegal immigration into Florida, unless otherwise required by federal or state law, and require the collection of information from state officials on the scope and costs of illegal immigration in Florida."
He also sent a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requesting information about the DHS/RRO resettlement program in August, a request which has gobe unanswered.
Officials at ICE and the Office of Refugee Resettlement have not issued a statement on the matter or responded to press inquiries about how Ulloa ended up in Florida.