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Public Statements

Hearing of US House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement - H.R. 1932, the Keep Our Communities Safe Act

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington DC

Statement of Chairman Elton Gallegly

As reported recently in the news, when 16-year-old Ashton Cline-McMurray was brutally murdered, his mother took some comfort in knowing that her son's illegal immigrant killers would not walk American streets again.

Under the belief that her son's killers would be removed, Sandra Hutchinson agreed to let prosecutors work plea agreements with the purported gang members, several of them illegal immigrants. They ultimately pled guilty to lesser charges. According to Ms. Hutchinson, the prosecutors reassured her that after the convicted criminals who killed her son completed their sentences, the killers would be deported.

Ms. Hutchinson's son was attacked while walking home from a football game in Suffolk County, just outside of Boston. He was disabled with cerebral palsy.

According to the mother, "They stabbed him. They beat him. They beat him with rungs out of stairs. They beat him with a golf club. They stabbed him through his heart a couple of times … and then finally through his lungs. They stabbed him in his abdomen. He didn't really have a chance."

By pleading guilty to lesser charges, from manslaughter to second-degree murder, the four killers did not serve the mandatory life sentence without parole that comes with a murder conviction.

This allowed one of the defendants, Loeun Heng, to be released by the Massachusetts Parole Board last March. Heng, an illegal immigrant, was immediately taken into custody by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement after his release.

But instead of being deported to his native Cambodia, Heng is back on the streets of the United States. Heng, like many other criminal aliens, could not be deported because his home country refused to take him back.

Two other men convicted of the crime remain in prison. Both are believed to be illegal immigrants. It is believed that the government will attempt to deport them once released, but the possibility remains that they may not be removed. The fourth man convicted is already free, but is in the United States legally.

How this can happen? In a word: Zadvydas. A line of cases following the Supreme Court decision from 2001 in Zadvydas v. Davis, sets severe limitations on the ability of federal immigration authorities to detain immigrants who have been ordered deported but who cannot be removed.

In almost all cases, deportable aliens must be released after 180 days if they aren't deported -- no matter how dangerous they are. This usually occurs in situations where their home countries delay their removal and do not cooperate with the United States government or the aliens have persuaded an immigration judge that they will be tortured if returned home.

The end result is that the American public is put at risk by non-deportable criminal aliens. Our communities are placed in danger as aliens who have serious criminal records and no legal right to be here are not placed in detention. Currently, almost 5,000 aliens, 4,000 of them criminal aliens, are being released into the community each year because of this decision.

The bill Chairman Smith has introduced will effectively address the problems created by the Zadvydas case. As a result, mothers such as Ms. Hutchinson will be able to rest assured knowing criminal aliens such as Heng will not be released into the community and the American public will be safer.

I strongly support H.R. 1932 and will now turn to my good friend, the gentlewoman from California, Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren for an opening statement.


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