Recently, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) released illegal aliens held in detention because, it claimed, there were not enough funds left to hold them due to federal budget cuts. When it first made the announcement, ICE said that several hundred were being let go. Supposedly the agency will keep tabs on them while their court cases proceed. ICE also maintained that they were “non-criminals and other low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal histories.”
Fact Check: Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was highly skeptical of these claims, and called on ICE director John Morton to testify about the release. Goodlatte, in a letter to constituents, noted it was odd that the release of many of these aliens took place before the funding reductions. During the testimony, Morton admitted that his agency could have made an additional funding request to Congress or used other funds at its disposal to continue the detentions.
Many of the released detainees were hardly “low-risk.” Citing information obtained by his committee, Goodlatte stated that “Those released include[d] aliens convicted of or charged with fraud, theft, or drunk driving offenses; documented gang members; those . . . arrested for but not convicted of a serious crime; fugitives; and illegal immigrants with final removal orders. The congressman said that the released detainees “unnecessarily put the public at risk.” And the total released was not hundreds, but 2,200 in all.
According to an article in The New York Times (2/26/13), the release of so many illegal aliens in so short a period of time was “extraordinary.” Truly this is just another example of indifference to immigration law enforcement under the Obama Administration. In 2010 the union representing ICE agents voted a motion of “no confidence” in Morton and other leaders of the agency. The motion stated that “[the leadership has] abandoned the agency’s core mission of enforcing United States immigration laws and providing for public safety, and have instead directed their attention to campaigning for programs related to amnesty. . . .”
The union further stated that ICE leadership tries to “portray ICE detainees as non-criminal in order to support the administration’s position on amnesty and relaxed security at ICE facilities.”
The Obama Administration continues to show how well it merits “no confidence” for whatever it says or does about immigration law enforcement.