U.S. releases criminal aliens denied return to home
Homeland Security agents release criminal aliens back onto the streets without strict monitoring because their home countries refuse to take them back, the department’s inspector general concluded in a report that exposes serious flaws in the system.
The report, released this week, was prompted by the 2015 killing of a young woman, Casey Chadwick, at the hands of Jean Jacques, a Haitian man who had served prison time for attempted murder but whose home country refused to take him back.
Investigators said agents did try to deport Jacques but once Haiti refused, their hands were tied by a 2001 Supreme Court decision that limited the amount of time an immigrant could be detained.
Once they released Jacques, agents failed to keep close track of him and gave up on efforts to deport him.
Within months of his 2015 release from parole, he murdered Chadwick, police say.
The inspector general said the tragedy is emblematic of the problems U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement faces with “Zadvydas cases,” which are named after the 2001 court decision limiting the time immigrants can be held to 180 days, except in extraordinary circumstances.
“A [deportation officer] has few tools available to supervise even an alien with a violent criminal history, such as Jacques,” Inspector General John Roth said in his report. “For example, ICE’s Alternatives to Detention (ATD) Program places conditions on aliens released from custody, such as electronic bracelet monitoring and home visits. However, the program is only available for aliens who are removable in the foreseeable future. Additionally, the tools available in ATD are used as a means of ensuring a removable alien complies with court orders and does not flee, and the ATD Program is not aimed at deterring future criminal behavior.”
Officers were unable to monitor Jacques in the months after his release and didn’t follow through on powers to compel Jacques to try to obtain a passport or other identifying documents that would have persuaded Haiti to take him back, Mr. Roth said.
Jacques served a 17-year prison sentence for attempted murder and then went back into custody after parole violations. He was released to ICE, which tried to deport him, but Haiti refused three requests, saying it couldn’t be certain of Jacques’ identity.
Jacques killed Chadwick in what police said was an apparent dispute about drugs belonging to the woman’s boyfriend.
Connecticut lawmakers, who asked for the review after the Chadwick killing, said the findings were “nothing short of alarming.”
“It is clear that more needs to be done to ensure that our nation is using every tool possible to secure the removal of dangerous individuals, evidenced by the inability of ICE to overcome Haiti’s objections to Jacques’ deportation. ICE lacks the framework for effective risk-based monitoring and supervision of released individuals like Jacques who have violent criminal pasts,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Christopher Murphy and Rep. Joe Courtney, all Democrats, said in a joint statement.
ICE said it was reviewing the inspector general’s report but that its agents followed the law in releasing Jacques.
“The Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, the requirements of which applied in the case of Jacques, limits ICE’s ability to detain individuals with final orders of removal,” the agency said. “Under the Zadvydas decision, after 180 days of post-order custody, ICE is required to release individuals for whom there is no significant likelihood of removal in the foreseeable future.”
ICE said it is working with the State Department to try to pressure other countries to comply and that Haiti is not deemed to be particularly problematic about taking back its citizens.
Several thousand illegal immigrants are released every year because their home countries won’t take them back. Some 35,000 convicts from Cuba alone are on U.S. streets for that reason.