A report issued this week by the inspector general for the US Department of Homeland Security said that officials at the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) released more than 2,000 immigrants who were on the verge of being deported apparently because it would have been too expensive to follow through on deporting them. The Secretary of the DHS was kept unaware of the immigrants’ release and the Obama administration subsequently denied rumors that the plan to do so was in place and being carried out. The report also stated that there was insufficient planning on the part of ICE for greater numbers of arrests of immigrants and that the budget thereof was grossly mishandled.
According to reports published by The Associated Press in early 2013, approximately 2,200 illegal immigrants had been released into American cities over a roughly two week period and that the Obama administration was at that time in the midst of carrying out plans to release several thousand more because of budgetary concerns. The initial reaction from White House and DHS officials was denial about the claims made in the report. But in Mid-March, the now former director of ICE told Congress that more than 2,000 illegal immigrants had indeed been released from holding facilities because the department lacked the necessary funds to keep them there.
The director also told Congress that the release of the prisoners and the decision to do so had not been shared with anyone in the Obama administration nor with anyone at the DHS. One DHS official, however, stated that the AP report was inaccurate and that the numbers of immigrants released was closer to being in the hundreds rather than in the thousands.
Regardless of the oversight, of perhaps more likely because of it, GOP lawmakers heavily criticized the release of the illegal immigrants, adding to their already critical stance that the current administration has been lax in its handling of border security issues and has not done enough to enforce current immigration laws or work toward any kind of reform. Additionally, earlier in 2014, a report was published by the US government stating the DHS had released more than 36,000 immigrants with criminal records who had been facing deportation, some of whom had murder and sexual assault convictions. These particular immigrants are still facing deportation and are required to report to immigration authorities on a regular basis.
Several political officials have expressed deep disdain for the way the White House and the Department of Homeland Security have handled the entire immigration issue in general and this issue in particular. One official stated that the DHS has a duty to protect the public from immigrants with criminal convictions but had “failed to live up to” that duty in this particular instance. The official also stated that because of the negligence demonstrated by the current administration, it can no longer be trusted to the extent that it once could and that the failure to properly address the release of these immigrants played a significant role in the administration’s capacity to move forward with any reform measures.
If you or someone you know is interested in receiving legal counsel for any immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.