WASHINGTON — An estimated 5,000 aliens were either arrested for committing crimes or absconded over a three year period while they were participating in a supervision program that allowed them to be released from detention and into U.S. communities, the latest publicly available data shows.
In an audit released earlier this month, John Roth, the inspector general (IG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), revealed that a total of 2,010 aliens were arrested for committing crimes while they were participating in a supervised release program in 2010 (576), 2011 (729), and 2012 (705).
Furthermore, the DHS watchdog found that a total of 2,760 aliens absconded while they were enrolled in the same scheme over the same period — 2010 (927), 2011 (982), and 2012 (851).
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, a component of DHS, is charged with detaining illegal aliens and legal immigrants who commit deportable offenses while they are processed for deportation and await final disposition of their removal cases.
ICE’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP) provides an alternative to detention.
The program is one of several means used to release aliens from detention. Some aliens are liberated after they are granted some sort of benefit or relief. Others are freed after they agree to leave the country voluntarily.
“Under the program, ICE supervises aliens it has released from detention, and monitors them electronically,” explained the DHS auditor in a report on ICE’s alternatives to detention. “As a condition of release, ICE requires aliens to appear in immigration court for removal proceedings and comply with removal orders from the United States.”
Electronic monitoring and case management is provided through a government contractor who uses either GPS ankle bracelets or voice recognition software for telephone-based reporting.
“The intent of this supervised release is to increase compliance with release conditions, appearances in immigration court for removal hearings, and final removal orders that immigration courts may issue,” later added the inspector general.
According to the auditor, the program is used “in conjunction with the less restrictive release conditions associated with payment of a bond, or having to report periodically to an [ICE] field office.”
Roth concluded that it is uncertain whether the program has reduced the rate at which released aliens have absconded or committed criminal acts.
ICE releases aliens “by means of bond; order of recognizance (unsupervised); order of supervision (which can consist of nothing more than a periodic telephone call to a designated ICE telephone number); an alternative to detention (such as an electronic ankle bracelet, or other form of tracking device); or parole (a form of legal status),” explained the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
The inspector general revealed that 1,341 ISAP program participants violated the conditions of their supervised release, but added that ICE “does not have sufficient resources to re-detain participants who willfully violate [the program’s] terms of supervision, such as those who tamper with GPS monitors or miss appointments.”
ICE enrolls aliens in the program who are “at high risk of committing criminal acts, absconding, or violating the terms of their release” by committing crimes or failing to report, reported the IG.
“In 2011, [ICE] began removing some participants from the program and reducing GPS monitoring for others when their immigration proceedings were delayed,” he noted.
ICE decided it could release some ISAP enrollees using other monitoring methods.
Mr. Roth revealed that ICE lacks funding “for the number of beds needed to accommodate program violators.”
However, in responding to the report, ICE said it has sufficient detention capacity to accommodate noncompliant participants.
As of February 2014, there were 22,201 program participants.
Congress appropriated approximately $90 million for the program for fiscal year 2014.
According to the audit, ICE does not evaluate the rate at which aliens abscond after they are recommended for release.
In 2013, the CIS found, “ICE freed 36,007 convicted criminal aliens from detention who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings.”
Among those aliens were criminals convicted of serious crimes, including homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault.
Also included were 16,000 aliens convicted of drunk and drugged driving.
Citing a DHS document, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, revealed that 1,000 of the 36,000-plus criminal aliens released in 2013 went on to commit new crimes, including drunk-driving, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.