Feds released hundreds of immigrant murderers, drunk drivers, sex-crimes convicts

Published on May 12th, 2014

Stephan Dinan
May 12, 2014
The Washington Times

Immigration officials knowingly released dozens of murderers back into the U.S. in 2013, according to Obama administration statistics detailing all of the criminal convictions of the more than 36,000 immigrants released from custody last year.

The numbers show that the criminals released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had amassed more than 15,000 drunken-driving convictions, 1,317 domestic violence convictions and even four that the statistics listed as “treason, sabotage.” There were also convictions for homicide, another 43 for negligent manslaughter, 14 convictions of voluntary manslaughter and one classified as “homicide-willful kill-public official-gun.”

The immigrants were in deportation proceedings, meaning ICE was trying to remove them from the country and could have held them in detention, but released them anyway, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, which obtained the numbers and published a report Monday morning. The Washington Times also obtained the statistics.

Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the center, said the numbers undercut the Obama administration’s own argument that it’s 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.

ICE didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday morning.

Some of the immigrants were likely released in response to an old court decision that said if a home country won’t take immigrants back, the U.S. must release them. But Ms. Vaughan said most were likely released on the decision of ICE officials. They are supposed to be subjected to other methods such as monitoring, bond or their own recognizance.

The details on criminals released comes even as 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 only fund slightly more than 30,500 detention beds a day, or 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.

But Ms. Vaughan said that rings hollow if the administration is already releasing murderers and other serious criminals even with 34,000 detention beds.

The 36,007 criminal aliens counted in the data had more than 87,000 convictions among them: 9,187 convictions for what ICE labeled “dangerous drugs,” 2,691 assault convictions, 1,724 weapons offenses and even 303 convictions for “fight escape” — a category that would seem to make them bad candidates for being released back into the country. There were 647 convictions of traffic hit-and-run, 426 sexual assaults, 727 other sex-crimes convictions and 228 kidnapping convictions.

The immigrants are in addition to the 68,000 other immigrants that ICE officers came across but didn’t put into deportation proceedings.

Last year, ICE came under fire for releasing thousands of immigrants and blaming it on the sequester budget cuts. Among those released were 622 criminals — including 24 with repeated major felony convictions so bad that the administration had to go recapture them.

Officials later said it wasn’t the sequester, but rather the regular budget process that caused them to have to release the immigrants. They said they’d been running above the 34,000 detention level for too long and would have had to cut detention to average out the numbers.

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