The United States government has released nearly 3,000 immigrant sex offenders, some of whom were illegal immigrants, since September 2012. Of those, nearly 3,000, or about 5%, were not even properly registered with local authorities as sex offenders.
According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week, “nearly 3,000 sex offenders are part of the 59,347 immigrants who the courts have ruled cannot be held” as of September 2012 because they were unable to be sent home. These immigrants were released “under some sort of supervision.”
As Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times noted, though, the GAO concluded that “about 5 percent of the time U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn’t ensure that the immigrants released were properly registered with local authorities as sex offenders.”
“I’m surprised that only 5 percent of them are not properly registered,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
The federal government has to release many of these sex offenders because of a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that said “detention for immigration purposes can’t be punitive; therefore, if there isn’t a likelihood someone can be deported, they generally have to be released.”
As the Times noted, that ruling matters “because many countries delay documents to make it more difficult for U.S. deportation.” For instance, Qatar reportedly takes an average of 800 days while Cambodia and Vietnman take 522 and 368 days, respectively.
Though “under existing law, once another country refuses to accept its people for repatriation, the government is supposed to begin refusing to issue travel visas for citizens of that country to visit the U.S.,” neither party has used this tool that is already on the books.
“When you start denying student visas — any narrow category that you want, that hits people in the ruling elite in that other country — they start paying attention,” Vaughn, of CIS, told Dinan. “That is the best leverage we have with people in other countries, is visas, because they all want to come here, go to school here, go to Vegas, Disney World, whatever.”