ICE released 68,000 foreign nationals who had criminal convictions last year instead of pursuing deportation, according to newly uncovered documents — a statistic one senator said represents an enforcement “crisis.” The internal documents were obtained and published by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates stricter immigration enforcement. According to the documents and the group’s analysis, ICE agents reported encountering 193,000 “criminal aliens” in 2013, but only targeted 125,000 for deportation.
In total, about 67,879 were released.
CIS called it a “large-scale abuse of authority.”
“The Obama administration’s deliberate obstruction of immigration enforcement, in which tens of thousands of criminal aliens are released instead of removed, is threatening the well-being of American communities,” study author Jessica Vaughan said in a statement. “It’s not a matter of if, but how many families will suffer harm as a result.”
These numbers challenge the Administration’s claims that, when weighing whether to pursue deportation, they are prioritizing cases where the illegal immigrant in question has been convicted of a crime. Records show they are letting thousands off the books, regardless of the claims of deportation.
The CIS report said factors such as “family relationships, political considerations, or attention from advocacy groups” are likely helping to “trump criminal convictions as a factor leading to deportation.”
Groups like CIS have warned that this could chip away at an enforcement structure that already has been weakened.
“The preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that immigration enforcement in America has collapsed,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said. “Even those with criminal convictions are being released. [The Department of Homeland Security] is a department in crisis.”
Earlier this month, a DHS spokesman said the internal review of immigration enforcement is a process that is “ongoing” and will be done “expeditiously.”
“Since taking office, the secretary has made clear that he shares the president’s commitment of enforcing our immigration laws effectively and sensibly, in line with our values,” the spokesman said. “As part of that effort he has been taking a hard look at these tough issues, meeting with a range of stakeholders and employees and already has been assessing if there are areas where we can further align our enforcement policies with our goal of sound law enforcement practice that prioritizes public safety.”
The documents though, didn’t say what type of criminals were allowed to stay. Hmm, none of them should be allowed, as they are all criminals for crossing our border illegally.
But the CIS report noted a 2012 report by House Republicans that tracked 26,000 illegal and criminal immigrants who were re-arrested and found they were tied to 58,000 crimes and violations — much of them drunken-driving arrests, but also major criminal offenses like murder and rape.
Further, the agency reported more than 870,000 illegal immigrants have been ordered removed but have remained in the country anyway.