The Homeland Security Department is creating a new system that will automatically inform both local and state authorities when an immigrant with a serious criminal record is let free into their jurisdictions, two Texas lawmakers claim. Democrat Representative Beto O’Rourke and Republican Senator John Cornyn have written a letter to Thomas Winkowski, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), claiming that a senior official within ICE told them about the new automatic notification system last month.
There was no information in the letter regarding when the notification system will be launched or how it will work, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has so far declined to comment on the matter.
The decision to allow the release of convicted criminals from immigration custody has seen ICE come in for heavy criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike. 36,007 immigrants with criminal records were released during 2013, including convicted murderers and sex offenders. These immigrants had concluded their criminal sentences; however, they were still facing deportation from the United States when the decision was made to let them go.
ICE has previously claimed that that court rulings and a number of other rules force the agency to release some immigrants with criminal records, insisting that around 72% of the criminal immigrants released last year were mandatory releases. O’Rourke and Cornyn want to know how ICE makes its decision about which immigrants to release and an explanation about how the agency categorizes criminal immigrants.