A senior administration official has publicly acknowledged the pain caused to Americans by the administration’s policy of releasing jailed foreign criminals into the United States, rather than repatriating the criminals.
Sarah Saldaña, the director of the immigration enforcement agency was doggedly questioned on Thursday by immigration hawk, Rep. Steve King. She’s the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he pressed her to admit the damage caused to Americans by President Barack Obama’s policy of releasing foreign criminals back onto Americans’ streets.
“There are thousands of people that are suffering the loss of a loved one,” because of those releases, King said.
“I don’t have the exact number, but I don’t disagree with you, sir,” Saldaña replied.
Saldaña was testifying at the House’s Judiciary Committee on Thursday about the Obama administration’s decision to more 86,000 criminal illegal aliens into American communities from 2013 to 2015. Predictably, those released criminals committed another 231,000 crimes during those two years alone, including 101 murders.
“Do you have any of that data in your memory to give us an idea, a scope of how many -migrants] died in the desert trying to get into America?” King asked.
“Oh, my goodness, sir, I’ve heard of those tragedies, but I don’t have that at my fingertips,” Saldaña said.
“Well, I remember the witnesses that came in and testified, and we saw numbers here in the Arizona desert in those years” that kept increasing, King said. “And I began to think about that. I began to think about how many Americans died at the hands of those who made it through.”
“We’ve done at least two GAO [Government Accountability Office] studies here in my time in this Congress… It’s difficult to unravel this, but I’ve met a number of the people, and it’s heartbreaking to me to think of the many people who are suffering a loss of a loved one because we didn’t enforce the law. And when I look through this list of those that have been released by ICE, and I see in this particular [86,000] list, I looked at it a little bit ago, one hundred and one released who had committed homicide, and how many others along the way. What’s the price to Americans?”
“I recall Donald Trump highlighting some of the people in his statement before the convention in Cleveland, and I noticed that last week, he made a statement that there are thousands of Americans that are grieving because they’ve lost a loved one at the hands of someone whom had been encountered by law enforcement in America, including ICE, and had been released onto our streets,” King said. “Would you agree with that statement?”
“That there are thousands?” Saldaña asked.
“Yes, that there are thousands of people that are suffering the loss of a loved one,” King said.
“I don’t have the exact number, but I don’t disagree with you, sir,” Saldaña replied. “And if I may, Congressman, let me tell you—I am a prosecutor. I come to this job as a prosecutor. I am used to trying to keep the community safe and I have not discontinued that in this job. I am trying to make the most out of the money we have—”
King interrupted, citing his short questioning time. “I don’t dispute what you’ve said, but you have to get your orders from on high. So if this is a matter of conscience, then I’d ask you now, have you come before this Congress and told us what you needed for resources in order to enforce the law fully, one hundred percent… I’ve never seen this administration say we want to enforce one hundred percent of the law,” King said.
“The signal we get, looking at this data is that this president has given orders from on high to release these criminals onto the streets of America.”
“And if that’s egregious to you, why haven’t we heard you push back against the president, and why haven’t we heard that request?” he asked.
“I’ll have to push back against the facts you’re asserting, sir,” she said. “I really have tried to make this clear, but there is no discretion in these releases other than about a third of the number you’re talking about. So when we continue to repeat that the administration is releasing people willy-nilly out on the streets who have criminal records—we’ve talked about the Zadvydas—that’s the United States Supreme Court. That’s not ICE.”
Zadvydas v. Davis is a 2001 Supreme Court decision that “effectively forced the release of thousands of criminal aliens into the United States,” the non-partisan Centers for Immigration Studies stated in a legal analysis of the case.
“It’s going to take a lot long to get down to this than what we actually have, but I’d like to ask you, do you recognize these names?” King asked.
“I do,” Saldaña answered.
King continued to name Americans killed by illegal aliens, then said, “I’m glad that you do. I’m thankful that you do, and we need to remember them. The immigration laws that we have are to be enforced.”
“We need to restore respect for the rule of law. Americans are dying every single day, because of our failure to do so, because of turning people loose on the streets that don’t return back again. And I see face after face of grieving Americans, and they are in the thousands, over the time I’ve watched this tragedy,” he added.
Goodlatte criticized Saldaña for saying that her agency had little control over the release of illegal aliens convicted of crimes in the U.S. due to the 2001 Supreme Court decision.
“I am sure you know that fewer than ten percent of the criminal immigrants released back into our communities are the Zadvydas cases. Less than ten percent. So don’t try to give the impression that you don’t have a choice. You do have a choice on over ninety percent,” he said.