Amid howls of protest by Hispanic advocacy groups and left-wing politicians, agents of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency apprehended and detained hundreds of criminal illegal aliens last week and began to process them for deportation as part of Operation Cross Check. But the operation still falls far short of capturing the hundreds of thousands of known criminal aliens still at large.
Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream was one of many Hispanic leaders who criticized efforts to expel criminal aliens. “Our community has seen an increase of ICE activity where we have heard ICE agents are going to people’s homes and detaining people,” she said.
ICE said it conducted operations in several states and arrested 200 people, the majority of whom had criminal convictions. The agency said the arrests were part of a targeted operation that is routinely done by its fugitive operations team. During such operations the agency may also arrest other people who may have violated immigration laws, the agency said.
But ICE has much more work to do. Every year, federal immigration authorities release into the U.S. population foreign nationals convicted of crimes — including murder — both because the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited indefinite detention or because their home countries refuse to take them back even after immigration judges have ordered deportation.
At least 121 killings within a four-year span were carried out by convicted immigrants who were not deported, according to a 2015 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee report.
“This disturbing fact follows ICE’s admission that, of the 36,007 criminal aliens it released from ICE custody in Fiscal Year 2013, 1,000 have been re-convicted of additional crimes in the short time since their release,” according to the report.
The Committee revealed that 121 immigrant convicts were charged with homicide following their release from ICE custody between 2010 and 2014. It also noted that in 2014, ICE released 2,457 immigrant convicts because of the Supreme Court ruling prohibiting detention of deportable foreign nationals beyond six months.
In a speech in Phoenix during the campaign, presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to deport immigrant criminals regardless of whether their countries agreed to take them back.
“There are at least 23 countries that refuse to take their people back after they’ve been ordered to leave the United States,” Trump said. “Including large numbers of violent criminals. They won’t take them back. So we say, ‘Okay, we’ll keep them.’ Not going to happen with me, not going to happen with me.”
One possible way to convince foreign countries to accept their native citizens after committing crimes in the U.S. would be to deny future visas to citizens from countries reluctant to take back deportable nationals. But so far, President Trump has made no announcement of such a policy.