FEBRUARY 09, 2011
A Homeland Security program created to deport incarcerated illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes has failed to identify hundreds of dangerous felons—including child molesters and drug dealers—who instead have been released in theU.S. upon completing their sentence.It marks the latest of many failures on the part of the massive federal agency charged with keeping America safe. The idea behind the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Criminal Alien program is to remove violent illegal aliens before they are released from federal and state prisons nationwide. Thousands have been deported, but more than 800 were released into the general population in one year.Many of them are “recidivist criminals who pose a significant public safety risk,”according to a Homeland Security Inspector General report released this week. Investigators took a sampling from 2009 and found that federal officials failed to identify 890 illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes, including assault, firearms possession and drug-related offenses.Most of the criminals who were released back into society were jailed in state facilities in California and Texas. Many of them are among the “most egregious criminal aliens,” according to the inspector general, which identifies their offenses as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and drug dealing.Examples include a Mexican with prior battery and burglary convictions most recently freed after completing a drug-possession sentence and another Mexican who served time for burglary. He too has a lengthy criminal history and had previously been convicted of several felonies but evidently never deported.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials claim “agent staffing challenges” and “increasing workload levels” are to blame for the oversight. The inspector general seems to attribute it to negligence, stating that federal agents failed to properly record and retain critical information and documentation used to determine the status of foreign-born inmates incarcerated in federal and state prisons.Better yet is that ICE management doesn’t have the ability to identify “performance gaps” in the crucial Criminal Alien Program. The agency’s watchdog makes an obvious recommendation to correct the serious gaffe; implement a procedure to ensure that all screenings of jailed foreigners are documented and recorded “according to agency policies and procedures.”
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