Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., the House Judiciary Committee will hold a full Committee hearing to investigate the release of criminal and illegal immigrants who are priorities for removal by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Recently, an internal ICE document obtained by the House Judiciary Committee reveals that the agency planned to release thousands of detained criminal and illegal immigrants into our communities to reduce the agency's costs in light of sequestration. Those released include aliens convicted of or charged with fraud, theft, or drunk driving offenses; documented gang members; those who have been arrested for but not convicted of a serious crime; fugitives; and illegal immigrants with final removal orders.
As of February 15, 2013, the document shows that ICE had roughly 31,000 illegal and criminal immigrants in detention and planned to reduce that number to less than 26,000 by March 31, 2013. Additionally, ICE has decided to release detainees into the population even though detention beds are below their average daily requirement of 34,000. At tomorrow's hearing, ICE Director John Morton will testify before the Committee.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte released the following statement on tomorrow's ICE oversight hearing:
"It's appalling that Administration officials used scare tactics to promote their political agenda on sequestration by releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the enforcement of our immigration laws but this decision undercuts the safety of our communities and puts Americans' lives at risk. Members of the House Judiciary Committee have a lot of questions for Director Morton and it is important that we get to the truth about who knew about this and who authorized the release."