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Smith: Dangerous Criminal Immigrants Deserve No Favors from U.S.

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

According to a press report, an immigrant from Haiti who was ordered deported by an immigration judge in 2007 for two convicted felonies was released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in October 2010 and went on to kill three Americans in Miami, Florida two months later. This criminal immigrant was released because the Obama administration halted deportations to Haiti in January 2010 and the federal government was not able to deport him back to Haiti due to two Supreme Court decisions that require the release of dangerous illegal and criminal immigrants back into American communities when they cannot be removed to their native country in the "reasonably foreseeable future."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the statement below following the press report.

Chairman Smith: "It is a tragedy that three Americans lost their lives because a dangerous criminal immigrant could not be deported to his home country. This is a failure of both the Obama administration and our immigration system.

"Kesler Dufrene, an immigrant from Haiti, was convicted of two felonies and ordered removed by an immigration judge in 2007. But because the Obama administration suspended all deportations to Haiti in January 2010, Dufrene couldn't be deported to his home country. Dangerous criminal immigrants deserve no favors from the federal government. The Obama administration should not grant blanket reprieve to illegal and criminal immigrants no matter what the circumstances are.

"Since Dufrene couldn't be deported to Haiti, he was released into our communities because of two Supreme Court rulings that have inadvertently created a safe haven for dangerous illegal and criminal immigrants. Just because a criminal immigrant cannot be returned to their home country does not mean they should be freed into our communities. Dangerous criminal immigrants need to be detained.

"Last year the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to remedy this problem, the Keep Our Communities Safe Act. This bill is desperately needed. We cannot continue to let dangerous criminal immigrants slip through the cracks of our legal justice system. While we are too late to prevent some tragedies, we should act to prevent many more."

Background: In the 2001 decision of Zadvydas v. Davis, the Supreme Court ruled that under current law, immigrants who had entered the U.S. and then ordered removed could not be detained for more than six months where removal would not occur in the "reasonably foreseeable future". 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 accept return of their nationals. Issues with repatriation run the gamut of problems with providing travel documents necessary for repatriation to blanket refusal of a country to accept return of criminal immigrants.

As a result, the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have had no choice but to release thousands of criminal immigrants into our neighborhoods. In the last two years, close to 8,000 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.

Last July, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Keep Our Communities Safe Act (H.R. 1932), a bill to stop the release of dangerous criminal immigrants into American communities. The bill was reported favorably to the House floor by a vote of 17-14 and provides a statutory basis for DHS to detain as long as necessary specified dangerous criminal immigrants under orders of removal who cannot be removed.

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