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President Barack Obama (L) announces Jeh Johnson (R) to be his nominee for secretary of Homeland Security, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Oct. 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst) President Barack Obama (L) announces Jeh Johnson (R) to be his nominee for secretary of Homeland Security, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Oct. 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)  

GOP Reps press DHS on the agency’s release of criminal aliens

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are pushing the Department of Homeland Security for more information about the thousands of criminal aliens that the agency has captured and released back into the United States.

The members’ request come on the heels of a report, based on internal data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that found ICE charged only 195,000, or 25 percent, out of 722,000 potentially deportable aliens they encountered.

Further, the report, from the conservative Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), revealed that ICE released convicted criminal aliens 68,000 times in 2013.

Texas Republican Lamar Smith had requested some of the information laid out in the CIS report after DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson testified before the committee in late February. DHS, however, failed to respond.

In a follow up letter Friday, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Smith, and House Judiciary Republicans called on Johnson to provide the committee with the information Smith initially requested and more detail.

“[T]he committee is understandably concerned when ICE releases criminal immigrants onto the streets,” they wrote. “It is crucial for the committee to know what crimes the aliens released by ICE were convicted of given that they were released back into our communities.”

Their request also sought more information on how many criminal aliens have been released due to the 2001 case, Zadvydas v. Davis, in which the Supreme Court found that immigrants ordered to be removed could not be detained for more than six months.

Additionally the congressmen pointed out that several years ago, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) investigated whether criminal aliens who were not detained or removed had gone on to commit more crimes.

“Of note, CRS found that of those released, about 17 percent of the unlawful and criminal aliens, or 26,412, were rearrested on criminal charges within three years of release,” they wrote. “These 26,412 recidivists accounted for a total of 42,827 arrests and 57,763 alleged violations. The categories of crimes charged include nearly 8,500 DUIs (14.6 percent), over 6,000 drug violations (10.9 percent), more than 4,000 major criminal offenses (7.1 percent), which includes murder, assault, battery, rape, and kidnapping, nearly 3,000 theft offenses (4.9 percent), and over 1,000 other violent crimes (2.1 percent), which includes carjacking, child cruelty, child molestation, domestic abuse, lynching, stalking, and torture.

“The crimes committed included 59 murders, 21 attempted murders, and 542 sex crimes,” they added.

According to the members, if DHS does not comply with their information request, the committee will schedule a hearing or “take other action” to get answers from the department.

They further took issue with the fact that DHS has not complied with their own policy, implemented via a Feb. 7 internal memo instructing component heads within DHS to respond to congressional inquiries within 10 days.

“In the short time that this policy has been in effect, your staff has already failed to comply with the policy twice with the committee,” the congressmen write. “Congressman Smith has not received a final response or even an interim response. For these reasons the Judiciary Committee reiterates his request. We ask that you respond to this entire request within 30 days and per your policy we be provided with a ‘date by which the Department will provide the member(s) [your] final response.’”