“I was told by Sheriff Arpaio he’s had some that have been in his prison 10 times or more for different crimes – 10 different crimes,” Salmon said. “So they’ve been arrested, flagged by INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service, now part of the Department of Homeland Security], released, back in jail, arrested on another crime a few months later or a year later.
“It’s a serious problem,” said Salmon, who is chairman of the subcommittee.
The hearing was held to question Obama administration officials about the government’s response to the more than 60,000 illegal alien children or Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) that surged over the U.S. border from Central America over the past year.
State Department officials tried to focus on how the United States is trying to provide money and services to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to stop the violence and poverty that they said drove the aliens to leave their homes in Central America.
But Republicans on the committee were concerned about those entering the country illegally that pose a threat to public safety.
“For fiscal year 2013, ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] released 36,700 convicted criminals who were in the country illegally rather than have them detained pending outcome of deportation proceeding,” DeSantis said. “We always hear we’ve got to focus the resources on the criminals – the people who really mean us harm.
“Some of the convictions these people – 193 homicide convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions, kidnapping, aggravated assault, vehicle theft, drug trafficking -- I mean, very, very serious offenses – and yet DHS is releasing these individuals into American society rather than repatriate them back to their nation of origin.”
DeSantis said the government claimed it released the criminals because their countries of origin refused to repatriate them.
So, DeStantis argued, why doesn’t the State Department put pressure on those countries by restricting the issuance of visas if criminals are not permitted to return?
“And when we are notified by DHS, we work really closely with them to push very hard to get countries to take back those criminal,” Jacobson said.
“But not hard enough where you would actually stop the issuing visas,” DeSantis said.
“We succeed very often in getting criminal deportees returned,” Jacobson said. She noted in her sworn testimony that the three Central American countries that were the focus of the hearing have been repatriating citizens who have been convicted of a crime.
DeSantis then pointed out that the 36,700 criminal aliens released represent a large number (32 percent) of the 88,000 criminal illegal aliens that were in U.S. custody in fiscal year 2013, according to the report given to Judiciary.
“That clearly is not doing what is necessary to keep the American people safe,” DeSantis said.
DHS officials were asked to testify at the hearing but declined to appear, according to the subcommittee.