In 2013, the Obama administration freed 2,200 illegal aliens from custody in an attempt to save money. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the people could "be characterized as non-criminals and other low risk offenders who do not have serious criminal histories."
However, records obtained by USA Today, through a Freedom of Information Act request, contradict this claim. They show that some of the illegal aliens released had faced very serious criminal charges, including kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking, and homicide. The records include spreadsheets and hundreds of emails.
ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen acknowledged the discrepancy saying, "discretionary releases made by ICE were of low-level offenders. However, the releases involving individuals with more significant criminal histories were, by and large, dictated by special circumstances outside of the agency's control."
According to one of the ICE spreadsheets, detainees that were released include one person in Texas charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexually assaulting a child. Another, from Miami, had been charged with conspiracy to commit homicide. Two detainees from Boston had been charged with aggravated assault using a weapon.
"[It is] deeply troubling that ICE would knowingly release thousands of undocumented immigrant detainees – many with prior criminal records – into our streets, while publicly downplaying the danger they posed," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said.
Last year, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings questioning the release of the criminal illegal aliens. Then-ICE Director, John Morton, was asked by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) if any of those released had committed violent crimes. Morton said, "they were not." Former White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, also said that none of the illegal aliens released were charged with violent crimes, calling them "low-risk, non-criminal detainees."
For more on this story, see USA Today.
Updated: Thu, Jun 15th 2017 @ 3:09pm EDT