Goodlatte: Obama Administration Responsible for Release of Thousands of Criminal Immigrants

AP Photo
AP Photo

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) offered a scathing opening statement about the decline in interior immigration enforcement under the Obama administration at an oversight hearing on Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tuesday.

“As the Obama Administration consistently shrinks the universe of criminal and unlawful aliens that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can remove, ICE apprehensions have decreased by 40 percent since this time last year.  ICE administrative arrests of criminal aliens declined 32 percent compared to this time last year,” Goodlatte said Tuesday ahead of testimony from ICE Director Sarah Saldaña.

He further noted that the number of criminal immigrants removed from the interior of the U.S. has decline by over 50 percent since 2008.

Goodlatte highlighted new ICE data revealing that last fiscal year the Obama administration released 30,558 criminal aliens — who had a total of 79,059 convictions.

Further, as Judiciary Committee staff pointed to Tuesday, while the department often points to the Supreme Court decision Zadvydas v. Davis as a reason they must release such immigrants, the committee revealed just 8 percent of the releases were due to that decision and those released immigrants went on to commit 20 percent of the crimes by released criminal aliens.

The convictions of the criminal aliens released in FY 2014 included 86 homicide convictions, 186 kidnapping convictions, 373 sexual assault convictions, 449 commercialized sexual offenses, 1,194 battery convictions, 1,346 domestic violence convictions, and 13,636 DUIs.

Goodlatte, in his opening statement, pointed to the decline in the issuance of immigration detainers and DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson’s new enforcement priorities as factors contributing to the decline.

“Due to the detainer debacle this Administration has created, ICE officers must wake up in the early hours of the morning, put their lives at risk, and go out into the community to apprehend convicted criminal aliens that have been released onto the streets,” the Virginia Republican said.

He further argued that from January 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014, there were more than 100,000 denied detainers, and the recidivism rate for those released criminal immigrants was 29 percent.

“Innocent citizens and law enforcement officers could be injured, maimed, or murdered due to a detainer not being issued or honored because of this Administration’s policies,” he said. “The Administration is responsible and will be held accountable.”

The Chairman continued to highlight Obama’s recent executive amnesty.

“Under the Obama Administration’s new enforcement priorities, broad categories of unlawful and criminal aliens will be beyond the reach of the law even if they don’t qualify for the President’s unconstitutional legalization programs. This means that millions of removable aliens will remain in the U.S. without any risk of removal,” he said, going on to point out that the the actions also served to end the “highly successful” Secure Communities program.