Tancredo: New DHS Information on Release of Criminal Aliens Gives Citizens New Weapons to Fight Local Sanctuary Policies

Home Depot volunteers for migrants (Gregory Bull / Associated Press)
Gregory Bull / Associated Press

The Department of Homeland Security this past week released a second report on local law enforcement agencies which are rejecting ICE detainers and releasing criminal aliens into the community. The weekly DHS reports are like a breath of fresh air after many years of Obama administration promotion of sanctuary policies.

Thanks to the new Trump administration policy and the weekly DHS reports, for the first time local citizens have the information to identify and combat local sanctuary policies. Some sanctuary policies are well known, like San Francisco and New York City, but many others will be news to local citizens. The first of the DHS reports is here.

Probably the citizens of rural Weld County, Colorado and Kern County, California were not fully aware of their sheriff’s sanctuary policies– that the county jail is releasing illegal alien criminals into the community instead of turning them over to ICE for likely deportation. The crimes identified in the reports run the gamut from DUI to sexual assault to burglary and cruelty to a child.

Not all crimes make an illegal alien subject to deportation, but all “crimes of moral turpitude” do fall into that category, and it is up to immigration court judges to make that determination in court. Under federal immigration law at 8 U.S.C. 1373 and 1324, local law enforcement is expected to provide cooperation, not obstruction, in the enforcement of ICE detainer requests.

According to the first of the DHS reports published on March 20, ICE issued 3,083 detainers across the country in a single week. That’s a rate of over 160,000 annually. If even 20 percent are rejected by local jail authorities, that would be over 30,000 illegal alien criminals released to commit more crimes instead of being deported.

There are over 300,000 criminal aliens incarcerated in state and local jails in addition to over 60,000 in federal prisons, so compliance with ICE detainer requests for the criminal aliens released from local jails is a very important part of immigration law enforcement. See the 2011 GAO report on criminal aliens here.

Unfortunately, even the Trump administration sometimes underestimates the importance of county jails in immigration law enforcement. Since there are at least five times as many criminal aliens in local jails as in state and federal prisons, deporting those who are eligible for deportation upon release from local jails would cut the crime rate immensely.

That fact was made clear by a recent incident in Denver, Colorado — an incident cited by Attorney General Sessions in a recent policy announcement.

A man released by the Denver county jail in December despite an ICE detainer request went on to kill a man less than six weeks later. 

Colorado alone has over 7,000 criminal aliens cycling through its local jails annually, and only a relative handful are being picked up by ICE upon release and processed for deportation. That’s why bringing local jails into full compliance with federal law must be a high priority for everyone, not just DHS and the U.S. Department of Justice. 

On March 30, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new program to use the latest technology to expedite the deportation hearings for criminal aliens in federal prisons. By bringing the deportation hearing to the federal prison and making the decision on deportation prior to the prisoner’s release, it saves ICE the cost of intercepting and detaining the criminal until a hearing can be held.

That is good news for federal law enforcement, but what about the over 100,000 felons serving sentences in 50 state prisons? It is highly unlikely that ICE is able to take custody of all 100,000 upon release and detain them throughout the hearing process. Colorado had 2,039 criminal aliens incarcerated in its state prisons 2016, and California alone had over 25,000 felons in its state correctional institutions.   

The sheer size of the criminal alien population is a scandal unto itself relative to the reported size of the illegal alien population in the United States.

  • If the true illegal alien population of the country is only 11.3 million as the Pew Center and mainstream media report, then 350,000 incarcerated criminal aliens in federal and state jails is over 3 percent of that population, whereas, jail and prison populations are less than 1 percent of the U.S. population as a whole.
  • In Colorado, the Pew Center says the state had 200,000 illegal aliens in 2014, which was only 3.7 percent of the state population of 5.4 million.
  • But, in 2016, the criminal alien population of the state prison system was 14.7 percent of the total prison population — or nearly five times its 3.3 percent share of the state’s total population. The state’s criminal alien population in 2016 is found here and the total prison population of 13,873 that year is found here.

What do these numbers have to do with Sanctuary policies? Everything.

  • According to that 2011 GAO report on criminal aliens in federal and state prisons, the typical criminal alien serving a jail term has been arrested seven times for 15 offenses.
  • The criminal alien population in federal prisons grew 7 percent from 2003 to 2010, but grew 35 percent — five times as much — in state and local jails over the same period. (See the 2011 GAO report here, first page of the summary).
  • By protecting tens of thousands of criminal aliens from ICE detainers and possible deportation, state and local jurisdictions with sanctuary policies are recycling criminals in and out of jail and giving them safe harbor in local communities, thereby aiding and abetting continued criminal activity in violation of federal law.

The new DHS reports on rejected ICE detainers are useful in documenting the problem of sanctuary policies abetting criminal activities by a criminal alien population that is probably over 500,000 and could be as large as 900,000. While nearly everyone agrees that the felons and violent criminals among them need to be deported quickly, that will not happen without a federal government policy change giving equal weight to deporting the tens of thousands of criminals released from local jails as well as federal prisons.


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