The Obama Administration lied last year when they informed Congress and the public that the 2,200 people that the Administration released from incarceration to save money had only minor criminal records.
USA TODAY, gaining the data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through the Freedom of information Act, reports that some of the illegal immigrants had been charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking, and homicide.
GOP members were furious when the data was released. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had told Congress that the inmates who were released were “low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal records.” Records reveal that ICE was readying itself for budget cuts in February 2013 when it released the immigrants, only two-thirds of whom had no criminal records.
After the new information was released, ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen protested, “Discretionary releases made by ICE were of low-level offenders. However, the releases involving individuals with more significant criminal histories were, by and large, dictated by special circumstances outside of the agency’s control.”
Sen. John McCain, R-AZ., weighed in that it was “deeply troubling that ICE would knowingly release thousands of undocumented immigrant detainees – many with prior criminal records – into our streets, while publicly downplaying the danger they posed.”
Normally, ICE releases immigrants with serious criminal records only if their legal status has changed or if they cannot be deported. Every illegal immigrant held in jail costs ICE an average of $122 a day. Last year, GOP members asked ICE Director John Morton for specifics about the immigrants the agency had released. Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-VA, asked Morton, “No one on that list has been charged or convicted with murder, rape or sexual abuse of a minor, were they?” Morton responded, “They were not.” He added that none of the released immigrants had been charged with child pornography charges. White House spokesman Jay Carney echoed that the prisoners who were released were “low-risk, non-criminal detainees.”
Yet an ICE spreadsheet reveals one immigrant from Texas had been charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexually assaulting a child, and others had charges including armed assaults or assaulting police officers. One immigrant had been charged with conspiracy to commit homicide. Two more had charges of aggravated assault using a weapon, amd another had been charged with sexual assault.
ICE will not confirm whether the charges resulted in convictions.
Morton had informed Congress that of the over 2,200 immigrants ICE released, 629 had criminal records, all of them misdemeanors “or other criminals whose prior conviction did not pose a violent threat to public safety.”
Of course, Morton did not mention the 144 other released immigrants who were filed under “special issues.” They were largely released because ICE had six months to jail them legally if the agency could not deport them.
Homeland Security’s inspector general went to great lengths to ensure the Administration would escape culpability, writing in August that ICE was so hurried from the budget cuts that neither the White House or then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano knew what was going on. The report went further than that, insisting that ICE officials acted “appropriately.”
Gary Mead, who headed ICE’s detention operation, claimed that if the wrong data had been fed to Congress or the public, it was just a mistake. He added, “We had been asking for some time whether we would have enough money to sustain the level of detention we had, and we didn’t get an answer. When we did get an answer, it was that we had to start releasing people today.”