Report: ICE Releasing Criminal Aliens if Activists Hold 'Vigils,' Create Petitions

By Matt Vespa | March 31, 2014 | 10:16am EDT

President Obama has been touting his record setting ICE figures since at least 2010.  His administration has deported a record 1.5 million people in his first term alone, which has drawn the ire of the Hispanic community.  Yet, a new study from the Center for Immigration Studies paints a different picture: ICE officers ignoring state criminal convictions and dropping cases if illegal alien advocates hold vigils.

In short, it's a catch and release tale. Jessica M. Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies at CIS, wrote in her report released over the weekend that:

In 2013, ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] reported 722,000 encounters with potentially deportable aliens, most of whom came to their attention after incarceration for a local arrest. Yet ICE officials followed through with immigration charges for only 195,000 of these aliens, only about one-fourth. According to ICE personnel, the vast majority of these releases occurred because of current policies that shield most illegal aliens from enforcement, not because the aliens turned out to have legal status or were qualified to stay in the United States.

Many of the aliens ignored by ICE were convicted criminals. In 2013, ICE agents released 68,000 aliens with criminal convictions, or 35 percent of all criminal aliens they reported encountering.

Concerning the Obama White House taking pride in being the Deporter-in-Chief on immigration, Vaughan added that:

ICE was able to achieve these "record" departures only because the agency was taking credit for removing a large number of individuals who were apprehended by the Border Patrol. Such cases made up the majority of ICE's reported deportations in 2013, but they had never been counted that way in previous administrations. Although former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano denied that the ICE reports on her watch were misleading, her successor, Jeh Johnson, recently admitted to a House committee that the administration's deportation figures are not comparable to previous administrations because of the large number of border removal cases.

Now, ICE also released 68,000 illegal aliens with criminal records, which is inexcusable; but how many detained had criminal backgrounds?

In 2013, ICE agents reported encountering 193,000 criminal aliens - yet they targeted only 125,000 of these criminal aliens for deportation, letting off 68,000, or 35 percent of the total. The ICE field offices with the largest ratios of criminal releases were San Antonio, New York City, DC/Virginia, and Newark (N.J.).

These figures suggest that despite claims of a focus on public safety, the administration's prosecutorial discretion criteria are allowing factors such as family relationships, political considerations, or attention from advocacy groups to trump criminal convictions as a factor leading to deportation.


In addition, ICE agents and officers have been instructed to ignore convictions for state crimes if the conviction occurred under a state law that the administration opposes or thinks is too harsh. Finally, many criminal aliens have been released from ICE custody, received case continuances, and sometimes even case dismissals as a result of petitions, protests, and vigils staged by illegal alien advocacy groups.

Well, I'm sure we all feel safer now that tens of thousands of criminals have been released back into the general population.

Other findings included:

  • ICE targeted 28 percent fewer aliens for deportation from the interior in 2013 than in 2012, despite sustained high numbers of encounters in the Criminal Alien and Secure Communities programs.
  • Every ICE field office but one reported a decline in interior enforcement activity, with the largest decline in the Atlanta field office, which covers Georgia and the Carolinas.
  • ICE reports that there are more than 870,000 aliens on its docket who have been ordered removed, but who remain in defiance of the law.
  • Less than 2 percent of ICE's caseload was in detention at the end of fiscal year 2013.
  • About three-fourths of the aliens ICE detained in 2013 had criminal and/or immigration convictions so serious thatthe detention was required by statute.

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