A criminal justice reform bill under consideration in Congress could lead to the release of criminal aliens, say warnings from immigration-enforcement officers and crime experts.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s “Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015” would reduce prison sentences for certain drug offenders and provide judges more discretion in sentencing for lower-level drug offenses.
But deportation after a shortened prison term is hardly a deterrent for criminal immigrants, says the president of the union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
“Because we do not have a secure border, or viable interior enforcement, Americans can be certain that the thousands of criminal aliens who are released as part of this proposed legislation and then deported, in most cases will swiftly return to the United States and reoffend,” National ICE Council president Chris Crane wrote in a letter Monday to the Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
“The United States essentially has open borders allowing those who are deported to immediately rerun to the United States, often within hours,” he explained. “Deportation should never be considered by Congress, or any judge, or any law enforcement agency, as a true penalty, or a substitute for incarceration; or more importantly as a deterrent for criminal aliens from returning to the United States for the purpose of committing a crime.”
Putting it simply, Crane wrote, immigration enforcement in the U.S. “has become an absolute joke.”
The bill’s advocates are hoping to pass it through the Senate this year, and then rush it through the House late this year or early next year.
According to the ICE union president, the release of such criminal immigrants will result in “countless preventable” crimes ranging from robbery and rape to crimes against children and murder.
“The fact of the matter is that keeping criminal aliens incarcerated under longer sentences ensures that they will not be on our streets committing crimes here in the United States,” Crane added. “Before this legislation is passed by Congress, members should be keenly aware of the fact that lengthy prison sentences are the one and only deterrent we have as a nation in our efforts to prevent criminal aliens from returning and reoffending.”
In addition to Crane’s warnings, Center for Immigration Studies senior analyst Dan Cadman on Monday also argued that the legislation will cause more dangerous criminal aliens to be released.
Specifically, the law would shortens the sentences of aliens convicted of smuggling drugs. but also ensures that;
Courts will be required to seal juvenile offenders’ records, including those who have trafficked in drugs (if there was no use of a firearm), and expunge records of those who committed crimes while younger than age 15, thus putting those records off-limits to immigration officers in the interior and at the border, making it harder to deport or prevent the entry of such offenders.
The bill shortens the sentence for those also charged with illegally possessing or using a firearm to effect the crime (often drug trafficking), from 25 down to 15 years.
“It is beyond incomprehensible that Senate leaders would attempt to fast-track a sentencing reform bill painted with such a broad brush that tens of thousands of aliens will be released from federal penitentiaries with no assurance of prompt deportation – putting public safety at great risk,” Cadman said.