ICE release of criminals drops to 30,558; director says number “still concerns me”

ICE Most Wanted

Page 1 of the ICE ‘Most Wanted’ list. (Snip: ICE)

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Wednesday that 30,558 aliens with criminal convictions were released from custody in 2014. According to ICE director Sarah R. Saldana, the agency will continue to work on reform of the immigration system. 

President Barack Obama empowered ICE with prosecutorial discretion regarding policy on foreign nationals in the country illegally. The flexibility inherent in Obama’s policy circumvents existing immigration laws passed by Congress.

Saldana included in her March 18 announcement a number of steps ICE has taken to institute “enhanced policies and procedures” regarding release. Those steps include “enhanced supervisory approval” for “discretionary releases” of some aliens who have criminal convictions—“those convicted or two or more felonies or any single aggravated felony…

The ICE director also said, “[D]etention capacity should not be a determinative factor in the release of an individual with a serious criminal record.”

Sheer numbers in the populations crossing the US borders or overstaying visas have strained detention capacity, and the length of time aliens can be held in detention has been limited by a Supreme Court decision. Often the alien’s country of origin refuses to accept his or her return.

Saldana also said a panel of senior managers will “review discretionary release decisions for individuals convicted of crimes of violence.” Supervision of those who are released will be enhanced to include “physical and telephonic reporting and other methods of supervision such as use of ICE’s Alternatives to Detention Program.”

Perhaps the most notable step Saldana announced involves notifying state law enforcement when individuals with criminal convictions are released. Parents of victims of criminal aliens are currently in hopes of Congress passing a law to deal with such releases, with some parents whose children were murdered by criminal aliens testifying before Congress.

While the 2014 figures are slightly better than those of the previous year, Saldana said, “[T]he number still concerns me.” In 2013 ICE disclosed the release of 36,007 aliens with criminal convictions. No federal assessments have been published regarding the financial or social costs to local communities.

ICE maintains a ‘Most Wanted’ list as do agencies like Health and Human Services and the FBI. One news release indicated a Mexican national living in Wisconsin had been sentenced to 42 months in prison “for illegally re-entering the United States after having been deported, which is a felony.” The alien, Ramiro Varela-Garcia, 38, had been deported in 2004 “following his criminal convictions for second-degree sexual assault of a child and criminal sexual assault.”

The interests of foreign nationals have been a driving issue for the Obama administration for years. The president has habitually overturned federal law without consent of Congress. Obama has been criticized many times by the union representing law enforcement officers, the National ICE Council.

In November, 2014, legacy media ignored a lawsuit filed by Patricia M. Vroom, a prosecutor at ICE, when she took issue with commands that amounted to ignoring public safety threats as a result of Obama’s policies:

“Vroom said in a Nov. 6 filing with the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Arizona District she was ordered to drop prosecutions of illegal aliens with prior DUI convictions because, in the alleged words of senior ICE official Jim Stolley, ‘We don’t give a shit about that. Let it go.’

She also details pressure from supervisors to drop prosecutions of illegal aliens with identify theft convictions, including one who registered to vote ‘not once, but twice, both times falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen,’ according to the filing.”  

As Congress debated the funding bill for the Dept. of Homeland Security, Republicans surrendered to Democrats who insisted on funding an Obama initiative a federal court had stayed. Obama’s Dept. of Homeland Security decided on a temporary amnesty for millions of foreign nationals, but the amnesty would effectively be permanent if for no other reason than the fact the numbers would overwhelm an already challenged bureaucracy when it comes to vetting identities of those amnestied.

The Center for Immigration Studies has been critical of Obama’s decisions to either circumvent or overturn existing laws. Jessica Vaughan at CIS wrote about the murder of a 21 year old clerk at a store in Arizona, by an illegal alien “previously in ICE custody in 2013 after a drug- and gang-related felony burglary conviction.” This alien benefited from Obama’s so-called “catch and release” policy. Vaughan wrote:

“ICE has been given the staff, the technology, and reasonably adequate resources to remove 400,000 illegal aliens a year. But thanks to tighter and tighter restrictions on the officers’ actions, only 316,000 aliens were removed in 2014, and only 102,000 of those were from the interior. Over the same time period, ICE freed another 30,000 convicted criminals from custody.

These destructive policies need to be checked by Congress — and the best place to begin is the pending 2015 DHS appropriations bill.”

Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress, in part daunted by the superior media machine Democrats control, feared another battle over exaggerated claims about government shutdowns. As a result, GOP leaders acquiesced to Democrats who once again violated the Constitution by funding an illicit initiative, with both parties’ leaders yielding to an executive branch whose overreach continues to expand.

The federal bureaucracy doesn’t keep track of the costs of Obama’s policies on foreign nationals, but the private organization The Remembrance Project documents as many victims as their resources permit.

(Featured Image: Page 1 of the ICE ‘Most Wanted’ List)

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/March 19, 2015)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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