Senators Press Attorney General On Plan To Release 2,000 Illegal Alien Drug Convicts

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Among the 6,000 federal drug offenders set to be released next month as part of the largest mass prisoner release in U.S. history are 2,000 criminal illegal aliens.

And while the Obama administration says it will deport that illegal cohort, it has provided little detail on the process by which that will happen.

Three senators who are concerned about that process — and whether it will allow criminal illegal aliens to remain on U.S. streets — aim to find out.

In a letter this week, Arizona U.S. Sen. [crscore]Jeff Flake[/crscore], Iowa U.S. Sen. [crscore]Charles Grassley[/crscore] and Wisconsin U.S. Sen. [crscore]Ron Johnson[/crscore] pressed Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the precise number of illegal alien convicts to be released. They also want to know whether the prisoners will be deported promptly, and, if not, how the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security plans to process them out of the U.S.

The convicts, many of whom are at halfway houses or under house arrest, will be released en masse next month as part of a new set of sentencing guidelines issued last year by the Sentencing Commission, an independent federal agency which sets sentencing guidelines for the federal courts.

More than 40,000 drug convicts will be released in total.

In their letter to Lynch, the concerned senators note the case of Apolinar Altamirano. The Mexican national allegedly murdered 21-year-old Grant Ronnebeck in a Mesa, Arizona convenience store on Jan. 22 while buying a pack of cigarettes.

The federal government had an opportunity to deport Altamirano the year before. He was in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) following a burglary arrest but was released on $10,000 bond while awaiting removal proceedings.

Between the time of his release from ICE custody and Ronnebeck’s murder, Altamirano was also accused of battering an ex-girlfriend and pointing a gun at her boyfriend.

“Given the scheduled nature of this imminent release, we urge the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to take the necessary steps so as to ensure that what happened with Mr. Altamirano does not happen with those deportable criminal aliens expected to be released next month,” the senators wrote to Lynch.

The senators want a detailed list of the charges against the soon-to-be-released criminal aliens and their criminal history. They also want a list of their countries of origin. Some nations resist U.S. efforts to return criminal aliens.

The senators are also unsure whether the Justice Department and DHS plan to hold the criminal aliens in the U.S. prior to their removal. Some may be eligible for bond which will allow them to be released back into the U.S. before their scheduled deportation, the senators note.

If that occurs, the senators want to find out which cities and states the criminal aliens will be returned to. It is possible that some of the released criminal aliens will be returned to jurisdictions with sanctuary policies. Hundreds of municipalities and counties have policies which prohibit local officials from aiding federal agencies in deportation cases.

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