The great majority of the criminal undocumented immigrants released from custody by the Department of Homeland Security in 2014 were discretionary, which essentially means that the DHS had the option of letting them stay in detention but chose to release them while their cases were moving through the system, new figures from Congress have revealed.
More disturbing is that a large number of those released – over 3,700 – were criminals assigned the rank ‘Threat Level 1’: serious offenders given top priority for deportation who were nonetheless allowed to go back into the community while waiting for a court to hear their immigration cases. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security have previously claimed to have no choice but to abide by court rulings; however, the figures obtained by Bob Goodlatte, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, suggest otherwise.
“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% of the releases,” Goodlatte says. “The Obama administration’s lax enforcement policies are reckless and needlessly endanger our communities.”
ICE has given a statement to the Washington Times in response to the story, saying that it takes the decision to release criminal immigrants very seriously and that each individual case is given a judgment call. “Not all Level 1 criminal aliens are subject to mandatory detention and thus may be eligible for a bond,” the agency claims, adding that in some cases there are mitigating circumstances behind such releases.