ICE admits catch-and-release of convicted murderers

3/17/16 1:58 PM

Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Sarah Saldana acknowledged Thursday that her agency released convicted murderers who went on to commit more violent crimes, but she explained that most of the releases were mandatory, and defended the risk assessments used for more discretionary releases.

Saldana was confronted about the release of 124 criminal illegal immigrants who were detained and "released to subsequently be arrested for a homicide-repeated crime" by Rep. Andy Harris, D.-Md., at a House Appropriations hearing on Thursday.
"So let me get it straight, there were really two people who were held in detention with previous convictions of homicide who were released to subsequently be arrested for a homicide-related crime?" he asked, reading from an ICE letter to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. "Is that right, is that what your letter implies?"

"If that's the facts of those two cases, yes," Saldana replied. Harris allowed that the language of the letter might mean that released one person convicted of two murders. "I can't tell you, to distinguish, but I understand your point," she said.

More than half of the convicted illegal immigrants released by federal officials this year were released due to court orders or other mandates, Saldana explained. "In those discretionary cases, we do it on a case-by-case basis," she said.

As the hearing progressed, she defended the expertise of the people who have been given the discretion to release convicted criminals. "I'm a prosecutor, I want those people in jail or prison," she told Rep. David Young, R.-Iowa. "You and I may disagree on looking at the same person but I am 99.5 percent satisfied with the risk assessments that we do."