Republican lawmakers are expressing concern about the Obama administration’s plans to release some 2,000 federally jailed criminal aliens scheduled for deportation as part of the government’s new sentencing rules for drug convictions.
The Justice Department plans to released nearly 6,000 federal prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug crimes, a third of those criminals slated for release are foreign nationals who are expected to be deported.
In the wake several high profile murders committed by illegal immigrants with criminal records, Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) argue the Obama administration must ensure that such tragedies will not be repeated.
In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson released Thursday, the trio pressed for more assurances about the upcoming releases, highlighting the recent murders at the hands of illegal immigrants with criminal records.
“As you are no doubt aware, recent tragedies have raised widespread concerns regarding the handling of criminal alien cases,” they wrote in the letter dated Oct. 13. “For example, Apolinar Altamirano has been charged with murdering Grant Ronnebeck, a convenience store clerk in Mesa Arizona, after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began removal proceedings but allowed Altamirano to post $10,000 bond.”
The Justice Department and DHS, Flake, Grassley, and Johnson argued, have an obligation to ensure that such criminal alien crimes do not happen again. They further pressed Sec. Johnson and Lynch for more information to ensure prompt removal of released criminal aliens — including whether the government will hold them in advance of their deportations.
“We are in support of reforming federal sentencing policies and hope that Congress will turn its attention to the issue soon, but we must do so in a responsible manner that does not compromise public safety,” they conclude.