Over 600 Illegal Immigrants with Prior Criminal Convictions Released into the U.S.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – More than 600 illegal immigrant detainees released by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) in February 2013 have previous criminal convictions, according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General. ICE released over 2,000 illegal immigrant detainees in February 2013. The report containing the findings of the investigation, conducted at the request of Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ), was released today.

“It is baffling how an agency charged with homeland security and immigration enforcement would knowingly release hundreds of illegals with criminal histories. In this single action, ICE undermined its own credibility, the rule of law, and the safety of Americans and local law enforcement,” Dr. Coburn stated. “This report provides more evidence that our nation’s immigration laws are being flagrantly disregarded.  Americans need to be assured the problems within ICE that led to the dangerous release of illegal aliens will be fixed and DHS and ICE will never again violate the law by releasing known criminals into our streets.”

“This report confirms the Obama administration’s lack of coherent leadership on immigration policy,” Senator McCain said. “The safety of our border communities shouldn’t be put at risk because ICE officials decide to release detainees—many with criminal records—in order to solve their budget problems without waiting to see if they could obtain more funding.”

The Inspector General cited a number of problems at ICE that led to the detainee release, including ICE’s executive leadership’s failure to effectively communicate with the DHS Secretary and the White House about its fiscal challenges or plan to release the detainees. ICE did not notify the DHS Secretary about plans to release or prepare for the potential consequences of releasing 1,450 detainees over one weekend. The DHS Inspector General’s report warns ICE still has not developed a strategy to effectively manage its detention program.