Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today introduced the Keep Our Communities Safe Act (H.R. 1901) to stop the release of dangerous criminal immigrants into American communities.
In the 2001 decision of Zadvydas v. Davis, the Supreme Court ruled that under current law immigrants who had been admitted to the U.S. and then ordered removed could not be detained for more than six months. In the 2005 case of Clark v. Martinez, the Supreme Court expanded its decision in Zadvydas to apply to illegal immigrants. The problem with both of these rulings is that not every criminal immigrant who is ordered removed can be because of the unwillingness of some countries to issue travel documents necessary for repatriation.
As a result, the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have had to release thousands of criminal immigrants into our neighborhoods. In the last four years, nearly 17,000 immigrants with orders of removal were released because their own countries refused to take them back. Justice Department officials have stated that these criminal immigrants include rapists, child molesters, murderers, and other dangerous criminals.
Chairman Gowdy: "In the wake of federal court decisions, our country is forced to let dangerous criminal immigrants back onto our streets if their countries of origin refuse to repatriate them. This law gives DHS the ability to detain criminals beyond six months, through the duration of the removal process, when necessary to protect our communities. The primary function of government is to ensure public safety. Congress should act to fix this judicially created hole in the legal system."
Congressman Smith: "Recent federal court rulings have required the release of dangerous criminal immigrants into our communities, putting American lives at risk. Just because some criminal immigrants cannot be returned to their home country does not mean they should be allowed back on our streets. Dangerous criminal immigrants need to be detained.
"The Keep Our Communities Safe Act closes the legal loophole that allows dangerous criminal immigrants to be released into our communities. The bill authorizes DHS to detain non-deportable criminal immigrants for more than six months. Congress has a responsibility to make sure the laws of the land protect Americans rather than endanger them. This bill helps ensure that dangerous criminal immigrants do not slip through the cracks of our legal justice system."
Summary of H.R. 1901: The bill provides a statutory basis for DHS to detain as long as necessary specified dangerous criminal immigrants under orders of removal who cannot be removed. It authorizes DHS to detain non-removable immigrants beyond six months, but only if:
· the alien will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future;
· the alien would have been removed but for the alien's refusal to make all reasonable efforts to comply and cooperate with the Homeland Security Secretary's efforts to remove him;
· the alien has a highly contagious disease;
· release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences;
· release would threaten national security; or
· release would threaten the safety of the community and the alien either is an aggravated felon or has committed a crime of violence.
Such aliens may be detained for periods of six months at a time, and the period of detention may be renewed.