The Immigration Subcommittee today issued a subpoena to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for a list of illegal and criminal immigrants that have been flagged by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) but have not been detained or placed in removal proceedings by the agency. On Wednesday, the Immigration Subcommittee authorized the issuance of the subpoena by a vote of 7-4. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) asked for the subpoenaed information from DHS in August. But to date, the agency has not provided the requested information.
Chairman Smith: "For the past two months, the Department of Homeland Security has dragged their feet and stonewalled my request for information. The Administration is wrongfully trying to keep crucial information from the American people. The American people have a right to know what crimes 300,000 immigrants have committed after ICE intentionally chose not to detain them.
"Are administration officials afraid that the information will show that illegal immigrants intentionally released by ICE have committed crimes that could have been prevented? Why else would they hide the information?
"We gave the Obama administration two months' notice of our request. Unfortunately, their continued refusal to provide the information has left us no choice other than to subpoena the relevant documents."
On August 22, 2011, Chairman Smith wrote to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano requesting a list of the criminal immigrants that were brought to the attention of ICE but not detained or processed for removal. DHS originally stated they had the information and would be able to provide it to the Chairman, but to date DHS has not given Chairman Smith the list as promised. Instead, DHS only provided general information on the Secure Communities program.
Last week, Secretary Napolitano testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding DHS oversight. During the hearing, Chairman Smith again requested the information and gave DHS a deadline for Monday, October 31 by 10:00 a.m. Chairman Smith stated if the information was not provided by DHS, he would have no choice but to issue a subpoena.
To read the letters, visit http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/Letters%20to%20and%20from%20DHS.pdf
Background on Secure Communities: The Secure Communities program keeps our neighborhoods safe by identifying illegal and criminal immigrants in police custody who have been arrested and fingerprinted. But the Obama administration recently made changes to Secure Communities that could open the door to allow millions of illegal and criminal immigrants to avoid current immigration laws.
Specifically, the Director of ICE issued two memos to agency officials on how to exercise blanket "prosecutorial discretion," such as granting deferred action, deciding whom to stop, question, arrest, or detain, and dismissing a removal proceeding. While this authority is justifiable when exercised responsibly, the Obama administration has used it recklessly.
DHS officials also recently announced that its newly created working group will begin a case-by-case review of illegal immigrants in removal proceedings and with a final order of removal to determine if those individuals should be removed at the agency's discretion.