February 22, 2015
Nearly 60 percent of illegal immigrants identified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as criminal threats are not deported and are eventually released, the latest example of the Obama administration's failed immigration policy.
Internal ICE figures show that in fiscal 2015, the agency encountered 152,393 illegal immigrants labeled a criminal threat, mostly in jails, but charged 64,116. About another 88,000 were not processed for deportation, according to the Center for Immigration Studies' Jessica Vaughan.
The numbers are even worse for those who ICE asks local police and sheriffs to detain but never collect.
Under Obama's recently announced Priority Enforcement Program, officials work with local police to arrest and deport criminal immigrants. In reality, that amounts to a phone call from ICE requesting local authorities hold the suspect for 48 hours after they're set to be freed.
But several sheriffs from around the country say that just 35-40 percent of those held are ever seized by ICE, even after they've been released.
Richard W. Stanek, sheriff of Hennepin County in Minneapolis, said he had 75 illegals ICE wanted, but the agency only picked up about 35 percent. "And these are people that they want," he told the Washington Examiner.
Susan Benton, sheriff of Florida's Highlands County, said "mine would be much much lower." Worse, she added, many are seized and sent to a federal facility in Miami and immediately released and return to her county.
It's become a huge issue for local police. Benton said she wants to help ICE and hold illegal immigrants longer, but can't legally. Often the result is more crime from the suspect and questions about why her department's jail frees them.
"We're the bad guys, we're the ones CNN is on saying, 'That sheriff left that killer out.'"
David J. Mahoney, sheriff of Dane County in Madison, Wis., said departments are less likely to comply with ICE requests because of the legal issues and a lack of support from the federal government.
"It's kind of a, 'Do me a favor and hold them for 48 hours or more.' When in fact there is no legal standing to do that. ICE says 'hold 'em, but we won't defend you if you get sued.'"