Last year alone more than 2,000 criminal illegal immigrants were released around the U.S. after having served prison sentences because their home countries refused to take them back, Sen. Chuck Grassley said on Monday.
“Dangerous criminals, including murderers, are being released every day because their home countries will not cooperate in taking them back,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
“Many times, these individuals have criminal histories in addition to entering the country illegally or overstaying their visa.”
The claim, by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, comes a week after a federal audit blamed the Department of Homeland Security and an uncooperative Haiti for an illegal immigrant being freed to kill a Connecticut woman.
Illegal immigrants convicted of crimes typically must serve all or part of their prison sentences in the U.S., and then are sent home under diplomatic agreements between the U.S. and other countries.
In 2015, said Grassley, some 2,166 individuals were released in the United States and not deported either because their countries would not readmit them or the U.S. government did not even try. In the two preceding years, more than 6,100 inmates slated for deportation were released within the U.S., Grassley said.
Some 23 countries are labeled as uncooperative, with the five worst being Cuba, China, Somalia, India, and Ghana, and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is monitoring another 62 nations where cooperation is strained, Grassley said.
Jessica Vaughan, director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, agreed with Grassley’s assessment.
“This is a serious problem that has been festering for years, but is getting worse as countries realize that they can get away with just refusing to accept back their citizens who are criminals,” she said. “What is equally frustrating is that the Obama administration has continuously refused to use the tools that Congress has provided and the leverage that we have with many of the recalcitrant countries, even as the roster of victims from these criminal aliens grows longer every month.”
There are a number of horrific cases involving victims of criminal aliens, Vaughan noted, including one highlighted by The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General last week. That report examined the circumstances that led to the murder of 25-year-old Casey Chadwick by Haitian national Jean Jacques, and found the agency’s overwhelmed Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau should have booted Jacques from the U.S. prior to the killing.
In Jacques’ case, Haiti denied his entry three times when Immigration and Customs Enforcement tried to deport him, claiming there was no proof he was a Haitian citizen.
Haiti refused to allow U.S. officials to obtain his birth certificate, and a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision limits how long immigration officials can detain people without deporting them. Jacques, who was held for a total of 205 days, was released.
“These are preventable, needless crimes that American communities should not have to put up with,” Vaughan said.
Grassley said this “cannot continue.”
“Lives are being lost, the public’s safety is at risk, and American families are suffering,” he said.