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    House Judiciary Committee Wants Data on Released Criminal Aliens From DHS

    By: Homeland Security Today Staff

    04/14/2014 (10:03am)

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and other members of the committee sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary (DHS) Jeh Johnson requesting information on criminal aliens identified by the Secure Communities program who have been “released into communities across the United States, as well as the specific crimes committed by these individuals and the justification for their release.”

    Committee member Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) wrote Johnson on February 27th the day after the secretary testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security in which he requested the same data.

    “However, almost two months later, [DHS] has failed to respond,” the lawmakers said.

    In the follow-up letter sent to Johnson on Friday, “members of the House Judiciary Committee renewed this request for information and also asked that DHS provide further information on this issue, such as the number of criminal aliens released as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Zadvydas v. Davis,” an announcement from Goodlatte’s office said. “The members signing the letter also noted that if DHS does not comply with this request, the committee will need to schedule a hearing or take other action in order to receive answers to the questions posed to the department.”

    In their letter to Johnson on Friday, the lawmakers re-requested the same information that Rep. Smith had asked for on Feb. 27:

    *When will DHS release its timeline and corresponding metrics for achieving operational control of the border?
    *How many criminal immigrants were identified through the Secure Communities program and other departmental programs in 2013?
    *How many criminal immigrants were removed from the United States in 2013? What specific crimes did these criminal immigrants commit?
    *How many criminal immigrants were released into communities within the United States in 2013? What specific crimes did these criminal immigrants commit?
    *Why were criminal immigrants involved in those crimes released into communities within the United States? Please provide your rationale and legal justification for not prioritizing these individuals for detainment and removal.

    “Congressmen Smith requested specific answers to these questions within 30 days. Thus, you should have provided a response by March 30, 2014,” the lawmakers chastised Johnson in their letter Friday. “Of course, as of the date of this letter Congressmen Smith has received no response. He has been told by DHS that the response is still being drafted.”

    “Since the time that Congressman Smith sent his letter, a new report issued by the Center for Immigration Studies based on internal data from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) indicates that ICE charged only 195,000, or 25 percent, out of 722,000 potentially deportable aliens they encountered,” the lawmakers stated. “Additionally, the report indicates that ICE released convicted criminal aliens 68,000 times in 2013.”

    “As you may recall,” the legislators’ letter continued, “as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s oversight responsibility, the Immigration Subcommittee issued a subpoena to DHS in November 2011 for a list of unlawful and criminal aliens that had been brought to the attention of ICE through Secure Communities after being arrested by state or local law enforcement but had not been detained or placed in removal proceedings by the agency. The Congressional Research Service (CRS), in cooperation with the Committee, crosschecked the subpoenaed data to determine if the illegal and criminal immigrants released by ICE had gone on to commit more crimes.”

    CRS reported that of those released, about 17 percent of the unlawful and criminal aliens, or 26,412, were rearrested on criminal charges within three years of release. These 26,412 recidivists accounted for a total of 42,827 arrests and 57,763 alleged violations. The categories of crimes charged include nearly 8,500 DUIs (14.6 percent), over 6,000 drug violations (10.9 percent), more than 4,000 major criminal offenses (7.1 percent), which includes murder, assault, battery, rape and kidnapping, nearly 3,000 theft offenses (4.9 percent), and over 1,000 other violent crimes (2.1 percent), which includes carjacking, child cruelty, child molestation, domestic abuse, lynching, stalking and torture. The crimes committed included 59 murders, 21 attempted murders, and 542 sex crimes.

    “Therefore,” the lawmakers said, “the committee is understandably concerned when ICE releases criminal immigrants onto the streets. It is crucial for the committee to know what crimes the aliens released by ICE were convicted of given that they were released back into our communities.”

    Committee members also expressed frustration over their continuing inability to from DHS requested information in a timely manner – it at all, they said.

    “Finally, and unfortunately,” they told Johnson, “we must note that often the committee must resort to scheduling a hearing or taking other action in order to receive answers to the questions we pose. We hope that henceforth such actions by our committee will not prove to be necessary in order to receive information from DHS that is vital for us to fulfill our legitimate oversight role.”

    The lawmakers noted that “On February 7, 2014, your Chief of Staff, Christian Marrone, issued a ‘Memorandum for All Component Heads,’ titled, ‘Secretary's Guidance on Responding to Members of Congress.’ According to the memo, you expect ‘the department to respond to Congress in a direct, courteous and timely manner.’ This memo implements a process that ‘affords the department a ten (10) business day response time from the receipt of the inquiry to the transmittal of the response to Congress.’ The memorandum further states, ‘If a component recognizes that preparation of a complete answer will require additional time, the component must draft a substantive interim response to the member of Congress indicating the reason why more time is needed and the date by which the department will provide the member(s) our final response."

    “In the short time that this policy has been in effect,” the lawmakers continued, “your staff has already failed to comply with the policy twice with the committee. Congressman Smith has not received a final response or even an interim response. For these reasons, the Judiciary Committee reiterates his request. We ask that you respond to this entire request within 30 days and per your policy we be provided with a ‘date by which the department will provide the member(s) [your] final response.’”

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