At least 600 criminal illegal immigrants were released by the Department of Homeland Security’s ICE agency. An inspector general’s report released today states that the federal agency set the “criminal aliens” free in advance of the sequester cuts in 2013.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency released the illegal immigrants form jails throughout the United States in February. When preliminary news of the released of the criminal aliens made headlines last year, both the DHS and ICE garnered backlash over the swinging open of jail house doors. Critics deemed the move both “dangerous” and “politically motivated” at the time.
The inspector general’s report noted that ICE was definitely attempting to “address the budget shortfall when leaders within the federal agency decided to sharply reduce” the number of individuals in illegal immigration detention centers.
When more than 2,200 illegal immigrants were released, a total of 629 individuals with criminal convictions were also set free. The original 629 figure was later lowered to an estimated 600. Some of the detention center detainees were arrested on serious offenses and should not have been cut loose, according to the report. “Between February 9 and March 1, 2013, Enforcement and Removal Operations field offices released some aliens with criminal convictions whose detention was statutorily required,” the report also stated.
The probe into the release of the criminal illegal immigrants was conducted at the behest of Republican Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn.
Senator Coburn had this to say in a statement about the illegal immigrant releases:
“It is baffling how an agency charged with homeland security and immigration enforcement would knowingly release hundreds of illegals with criminal histories. In this single action, ICE undermined its own credibility the rule of law, and the safety of Americans and local law enforcement.”
A significant number of the criminal illegal immigrants released by ICE had been categorized as Level 3 or lower-level offenses. But some of those set free had been deemed Level 1 and Level 2 detainees. Those who fell under the more serious levels had reportedly been convicted on charges ranging from robbery, to serious drug crimes, to rape, and murder. Level 2 offenses range from charges such as burglary, fraud, and money laundering.
The inspector general’s report did not detail the specific offenses connected with each illegal immigrant set free during the sequester budget cuts.
The document did state that some detainees were mandated to be held by existing statute. The approach used by ICE was deemed “problematic” and states that leaders at the federal agency did not “communicate effectively” with those in charge of detention centers, nor did they inform the “higher-ups” about the budget shortfalls.
A sense of confusion with inconsistent reportedly abounded within the agencies involved with the decision making process at the detention centers.
Local divisions allegedly did not have written order on how to “prioritize” the release of criminal illegal immigrants and had only “limited access” to ICE legal guidance on the matter. The leadership at ICE increased the confusion by not telling field offices to track the releases of criminal aliens, according to the report. When asked questions about the releases, officers reportedly had difficulty giving answers to investigators.
What do you think about the release of criminal illegal immigrants by ICE?
[Image Via: Wikipedia]