A letter written by the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2015 to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General Loretta Lynch reveals news facts about the number and nature of crimes committed by illegal immigrants who had already been convicted of other crimes but were released back into the public either because their home country would not accept their deportation and/or because they exceeded a Supreme Court mandate prohibiting detention of deportable foreign nationals beyond six months.
According to the letter, published by the Miami Herald, statistics provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials confirm that 121 homicides were committed in the U.S. between 2010-2014 by illegal immigrants who had already been convicted of a crime but were released back into society due to limitations on their detention. In addition, ICE confirmed that of the 36,007 criminal aliens released from custody in 2013, 1,000 of them had already been convicted of new crimes as of June 2015.
“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 letter, dated June 12, 2015.
The Senate Judiciary Committee letter 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.
Most of these immigrant convicts are nationals of 23 countries described by ICE as “recalcitrant” because they routinely refuse to take back deportables. The bulk of these immigrant convicts in 2014 — 1,183 — were from Cuba, according to the letter. The other “recalcitrant” countries include Afghanistan, Algeria, China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Zimbabwe, according to ICE.
A committee spokeswoman did not provide additional information on the letter when contacted by el Nuevo Herald last week.
But in response to the letter, Sarah Saldaña, then-director of ICE, stated that 33 of the 121 immigrant convicts accused of “homicide-related offenses” had been released on bond at the discretion of immigration courts. Another 24 were released because ICE was unable to obtain approval to deport them to their countries within the 180-day deadline set by the Supreme Court in 2001.
Of course, throughout the campaign cycle Trump was very clear about his intentions to deport the ~2 million illegal aliens currently residing the country with criminal convictions on their records.
One weapon Trump has suggested he could wield to compel countries to take back their deportable nationals is halting the issuance of visas to visitors and immigrants from those nations. While this has yet to happen, and would almost certainly result in additional legal challenges from the Left, it is certainly easy to imagine a scenario in which additional non-compliant countries could simply be added to his existing temporary immigration ban.
In a speech in Phoenix during the campaign, 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.”
Of course, Trump's appearances with the families of victims murdered at the hands of illegal immigrants was a common occurrence on the campaign trail.
In his Phoenix immigration speech Aug. 31, Trump recalled the case of 21-year-old Sarah Root of Des Moines, Iowa, whose death in January 2016 was blamed on an undocumented immigrant who had been released after having been in custody despite being in the country illegally and having failed to show up in court for prior alleged crimes. Eswin Mejía, a Honduran, was charged in connection with Root’s death in a vehicle crash, was freed on bail and fled.
Trump also cited the case of Grant Ronnebeck, a 21-year-old convenience store clerk from Mesa, Arizona, whose murder was also blamed on an undocumented immigrant who had been previously convicted of burglary and had been released from federal custody.
Ronnebeck was killed allegedly over a pack of cigarettes in January 2015, and the murder was linked to Apolinar Altamirano, a Mexican national who was in deportation proceedings but who had been released on bond by an immigration court judge.
A third case Trump mentioned was that of Kate Steinle, gunned down in San Francisco by an undocumented Mexican, Juan Francisco López Sánchez, who had been deported five times previously but had managed to cross the border again undetected.
ICE officials have told Congress that they tried to prevent López Sánchez from bonding out of jail but failed to do so because authorities in San Francisco, a so-called “sanctuary city,” ignored an immigration detainer for the defendant.
Not surprisingly, and despite the damning data provided by ICE officials, Obama's former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told the Senate Judiciary Committee in April 2015 that he did not believe visa sanctions against recalcitrant countries was the right policy, saying "I don’t necessarily believe that we ought to suspend immigration, travel from any of these countries because of this particular issue."
Somehow we suspect the Trump administration disagrees with the former DHS Secretary on the seriousness of this "particular issue."