More than 3,700 “Threat Level 1” criminal immigrants were released from custody last year, according to new data obtained by Congress and revealed by The Washington Times.
A report from The Times details how data from the Department of Homeland Security, obtained by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), show that the 57 percent of criminal immigrants released last year were discretionary – or the choice of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Put aside the spin, and the fact is that over 17,000 of the criminal aliens released last year were released due to ICE discretion, representing 57 percent of the releases,” Goodlatte told The Times. “The Obama administration’s lax enforcement policies are reckless and needlessly endanger our communities.”
Last fiscal year ICE released more than 30,500 criminal immigrants from custody. Of the discretionary releases, The Times reports, more than 3,700 represented top threats.
The Obama administration has argued that many of the releases are due to a 2001 Supreme Court case, Zadvydas v. Davis, which prohibited the prolonged detention of immigrants if their deportation was unlikely in the near future, often in circumstances in which their country will not take them back.
The Times notes that with the new data, Goodlatte argues that releases due to the Zadvydas case were just 8 percent of the overall releases or 2,500 last year and the rest were either ordered by a judge or ICE failed to obtain travel documents.
ICE explained to The Times in a statement that each case is a judgement call.
“Not all Level 1 criminal aliens are subject to mandatory detention and thus may be eligible for bond,” ICE said to The Times.
“ICE personnel making custody determinations also take into consideration humanitarian factors such as deteriorated health, advanced age, and caretaking responsibilities. All custody determinations are made on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the totality of circumstances in each case,” It added.
And while ICE looks to alleviate concerns by pointing out it continues to monitor those criminal immigrants it releases, according to The Times, the monitoring often fails to deter criminal immigrants from violating the terms of their release.