DHS Has Not Asked for Visa Restrictions to Prevent Criminal Immigrant Releases in over a Decade

DHS Has Not Asked for Visa Restrictions to Prevent Criminal Immigrant Releases in over a Decade

The Department of Homeland Security has only requested that the State Department invoke visa sanctions against a country that refuses or delays accepting an immigrant facing deportation back to their home country once, over a decade ago. 

A State Department official confirmed to Breitbart News Monday that the only time the State Department invoked visas sanctions at the request of DHS was in 2001 against Guyana.

Last week the Center for Immigration Studies reported that an internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement document revealed that last year ICE released 36,007 criminal immigrants awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings. 

According to ICE, many of the releases were mandatory, some as required by court cases like Zadvydas v. Davis — in which the Supreme Court held that the government cannot indefinitely detain an immigrant if there “is no significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future,” which, according to CIS, most often happens when an immigrant’s country refuses to take the immigrant back.

Over the weekend, CIS experts postulated that Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry bear partial blame for some of the 36,007 criminal immigrants released last year — estimating that 3,000 releases were “mandatory” due to Zadvydas — because of their apparent failure to invoke a statute requiring the DHS Secretary to request the Secretary of State to stop issuing visas to those countries that do not take back or delay taking their citizens back. 

Specifically the statute reads: 

On being notified by [DHS Secretary] that the government of a foreign country denies or unreasonably delays accepting an alien who is a citizen, subject, national, or resident of that country after the [DHS Secretary] asks whether the government will accept the alien under this section, the Secretary of State shall order consular officers in that foreign country to discontinue granting immigrant visas or nonimmigrant visas, or both, to citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents of that country until the [DHS Secretary] notifies the Secretary that the country has accepted the alien.

CIS pointed out that, in addition to DHS, Kerry and Clinton likely could have done more to stop some of these releases. 

“Congress has given DHS and the State Department the tools to ensure that Americans do not have to live among criminals who do not belong in the country,” Jon Feere, the Legal Policy Analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, said in a statement accompanying the report over the weekend. “Jeh Johnson, Janet Napolitano, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton should explain why they didn’t follow federal law and stop the issuance of visas to the countries that have refused to take back their law-breaking citizens.”

According to a State Department official, DHS has only formally requested such sanctions once, but the official noted that State and DHS do work together, using a variety of tools to get countries to take back their citizens and residents. 

“The State Department and DHS work closely to secure cooperation from governments with a history of repatriation issues and have aggressively pursued remedial action by such governments,” a state department official emailed Breitbart News. “Effectively addressing the repatriation issue involves careful consideration of all security, diplomatic, social, and financial implications involved.”

The official added that the issue is a serious one. 

“In general, as with many bilateral issues, it is a matter of persistent, patient diplomacy addressing a broad array of U.S. government concerns,” the official added. “It is a matter we take very seriously, and consistently raise it at high levels with all countries where this is a concern.”