U.S. Stuck with Deportable Criminal Aliens; Birth Countries Refuse Their Re-entry

Published on June 10th, 2015

By Joe Guzzardi
June 10, 2015

In his recent weekly radio address, President Obama criticized House Republicans, the Federal District Court, and the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court for blocking his executive action amnesty. Obama pulled out all the familiar, hackneyed reasons why, in his opinion, he’s in the right—amnesty will modernize the broken immigration system, and make it “more just.” The president wants “to bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can get right with the law." In his speech, Obama promised to keep fighting for illegal immigrants.

While Obama’s promise to legalize illegal immigrants to help them get back in law enforcement’s good graces makes a nice sound bite, the facts on the ground tell a different story. Immigration courts have ordered about 900,000 illegal immigrants deported, a ruling which the administration has not not enforced.

Worse, in 2013, 36,000 convicted criminal aliens—the type Obama promised to use Department of Homeland Security resources to track down in exchange for letting non-criminal aliens remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation—were released. Another 30,558 were set free during the previous fiscal year. As the Center for Immigration Studies noted, the freed aliens had committed 79,059 criminal offenses including homicides, sexual assaults, kidnappings and thousands of impaired-driving offenses.

When the House Judiciary Committee investigated, it found that 3,100 aliens now at large are classified as Threat Level I criminals. Immigration and Customs Enforcement insists that those released have extenuating circumstances like illness or advanced age, and are electronically monitored. But further examination found that 30,000 of those monitored broke the conditions of their release, and last year logged 300,000 violations, an average of ten per criminal. Only 2,240 were rearrested. Furthermore, DHS does not and will not track the tens of thousands of unlawful immigrants caught and released on the grounds of the administration’s unilateral prosecutorial discretion program.

Taken as a whole, the White House’s record on enforcement, even when it comes to the most violent offenders, is perilously lax. The consequences behind the raw numbers of released criminals is chilling.

In its in-depth look at ICE’s pattern of freeing aliens but without advising victims or neighborhoods that criminals are on the way, the Atlanta Journal Constitution provided frightening details.  Titled “Convicted but Free to Roam,” the AJC emphasized that ICE refuses to identify criminal aliens on the grounds that to do so may represent an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. But that policy puts the victims and communities at risk. The AJC included dozens of examples including the case of a West African alien convicted of sexual battery but released in 2010 with instructions to report regularly to federal immigration authorities. Instead, he disappeared and his whereabouts are unknown. 

A complicating factor is that, pursuant to Supreme Court’s 2001 Zadvydas decision, the U.S. cannot detain aliens beyond six months if their countries of origin refuse to accept them back. Last year, for example, Cuba rejected 878 criminals and through this fiscal year’s first eight months, nearly 400 more. That spells trouble for the U.S. because few if any countries take back their known criminals. The administration has been paying lip service to working out a diplomatic solution such as withholding visas to the offending countries, but no action is anticipated.

In violation of his oath of office, Obama has failed to protect Americans and, even in this era of heightened terrorism concerns, appears indifferent to citizens’ safety.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]

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