Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion frees known con­victs

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

worst prison break in Amer­i­can his­tory, ex­cept it was sanc­tioned by the pres­i­dent and per­pe­trated by our own im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials,” said Rep. La­mar Smith, Texas Repub­li­can. “The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tions are out­ra­geous. They will­fully and know­ingly put the in­ter­ests of crim­i­nal im­mi­grants be­fore the safety and se­cu­rity of the Amer­i­can people.”

The data raised thorny ques­tions about how the govern­ment de­cides which im­mi­grants to de­tain and which it will re­lease as they await court hear­ings and fi­nal ac­tion on de­por­ta­tion.

Jes­sica Vaughan, pol­icy stud­ies di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, said the num­bers un­der­cut the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ar­gu­ment that it is try­ing to keep its en­force­ment ef­forts tar­geted at dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals.

“We keep hear­ing from the ad­min­is­tra­tion that they are fo­cused like a laser on en­force­ment against the worst of the worst, con­victed crim­i­nals, as their top pri­or­ity. On the other hand, they are re­leas­ing, at a rate of about 100 a day, aliens from their cus­tody with crim­i­nal con­vic­tions, and many of them are se­ri­ous crim­i­nal con­vic­tions,” she said.

In a state­ment, ICE said many of those it re­leased were sub­ject to elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing, post­ing bond or hav­ing to check in with of­fi­cers.

In other cases, the agency was re­quired to re­lease im­mi­grants be­cause of court de­ci­sions, in­clud­ing a 2001 Supreme Court rul­ing that found im­mi­grants whose home coun­tries re­fused to take them back could not be held for more than six months.

ICE said 75 per­cent of the con­victed mur­der­ers re­leased in 2013 were con­sid­ered “manda­tory re­leases” in com­pli­ance with court de­ci­sions.

“Oth­ers, typ­i­cally those with less se­ri­ous of­fenses, were re­leased as a dis­cre­tionary mat­ter af­ter ca­reer law en­force­ment of­fi­cers made a judg­ment re­gard­ing the pri­or­ity of hold­ing the in­di­vid­ual, given ICE’s re­sources, and pri­or­i­tiz­ing the de­ten­tion and re­moval of in­di­vid­u­als who pose a risk to pub­lic safety or na­tional se­cu­rity,” ICE said.

Rep. Bob Good­latte, chair­man of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Jeh John­son will have to an­swer ques­tions.

Mr. Good­latte and Mr. Smith asked ICE for the re­lease num­bers but said the agency never turned them over.

“These crim­i­nals should be locked up, not roam­ing our streets,” the law­mak­ers said.

ICE has told Congress it doesn’t need to hold as many im­mi­grants in de­ten­tion. In its budget re­quest this year, ICE asked that Congress fund slightly more than 30,500 de­ten­tion beds a day, down from the 34,000 set in cur­rent law.

“This fund­ing level of beds will al­low ICE to de­tain the cur­rent manda­tory pop­u­la­tion, as well as the higher-risk, non-manda­tory de­tainees,” ICE Deputy Di­rec­tor Daniel Rags­dale tes­ti­fied in March.

Ms. Vaughan said that rings hol­low if the ad­min­is­tra­tion is re­leas­ing mur­der­ers and other

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