The government accountability group Judicial Watch announced Thursday that it has sued the Department of Homeland Security for records dealing with the more than 36,000 convicted criminal aliens the Obama administration released last year.
The conservative group says it is suing because the government failed to respond to its Freedom of Information Act earlier this year about a Center for Immigration Studies report revealing criminal immigrant releases.
“This would be considered the worst prison break in American history, except it was sanctioned by the President and perpetrated by our own immigration officials,” former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) said at the time of the report’s release.
In May, reacting to CIS’s report detailing the nearly 88,000 crimes for which the 36,007 released criminal immigrants were convicted — including homicide sexual assault kidnapping, aggravated assault, and drug convictions — Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request seeking a wide range of documents dealing with the criminal alien releases.
“I am aware of the reports that in Fiscal Year 2013 thousands of individuals with criminal convictions who may be removable were released from custody. I have asked for a deeper understanding of this issue,” DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson told the House Judiciary Committee in prepared testimony in June.
Specifically, Judicial Watch is seeking:
Any and all records of communications including, but not limited to, emails and memoranda, to or from personnel in the office of the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (including its component offices, such as the Office of Public Affairs), from May 1 to May 15, 2014, concerning, regarding, or related to the report published by the Center for Immigrations Studies concerning the release of 36,000 criminal aliens.
In recent years, Judicial Watch has often had to sue the Obama administration receive answers to their FOIA requests.
“As best we can tell, the Freedom of Information Act, at this time, is the best way to get information out of this administration — an administration that is committed to secrecy and stonewalling on something that would have taken down previous administrations,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said at a September press conference commemorating the two-year anniversary of the attacks on the American facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
According to the group, it filed its lawsuit seeking to have its May 15 FIOA request about the criminal immigrant releases fulfilled on July 21.
“How many Americans will be killed, maimed, or victimized by the Obama administration’s release of aliens convicted of violent crimes?” Fitton asked in a statement. “Under President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security has turned from a law enforcement agency into one that undermines and violates our nation’s immigration laws in a way that threatens the public safety. And now Homeland Security is in cover-up mode and violating federal law to keep documents about its mass release of criminals away from the American people.”