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Releaser-in-Chief: 68,000 convicted criminal aliens released in one year

ICE engages in catch & release instead of interior enforcement

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Public safety is threatened by the Obama administration's deliberate suppression of immigration law enforcement through abuse of prosecutorial discretion. A study released by the Center for Immigration Studies – based on internal data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement – reveals that this practice has led to ICE charging only 195,000, or 25 percent, out of 722,000 potentially deportable aliens they encounter and releasing convicted criminal aliens 68,000 times in 2013. The releases are troubling, as is the revelation that more than 870,000 aliens who have been ordered removed still remain in the country in defiance of the law.

Center for Immigration Studies Logo.

Just as the president has ordered a review of U.S. deportation practices with the intent of lowering the number of deportations, this study highlights the public safety issues that have resulted from the dramatic downturn in interior enforcement on his watch. ICE targeted 28 percent fewer aliens for deportation from the interior in 2013 than in 2012, despite sustained high numbers of encounters in the Criminal Alien and Secure Communities programs.

"The Obama administration's deliberate obstruction of immigration enforcement, in which tens of thousands of criminal aliens are released instead of removed, is threatening the well-being of American communities," said study author Jessica Vaughan. "It's not a matter of if, but how many families will suffer harm as a result. Every day, I read accounts of crimes that could have been prevented if ICE officers had been allowed to do their jobs. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson should be reaching out to these victims and their families to better understand the impact of his actions. And, Congress should initiate a review of the public safety implications of the administration's abuse of prosecutorial discretion."

View the entire report at:

Key findings include:

  • In 2013, ICE charged only 195,000, or 25 percent, out of 722,000 potentially deportable aliens they en­countered. Most of these aliens came to ICE's attention after incarceration for a local arrest.
  • ICE released 68,000 criminal aliens in 2013, or 35 percent of the criminal aliens encountered by officers. The vast majority of these releases occurred because of the Obama administration's prosecutorial discretion policies, not because the aliens were not deportable.
  • ICE targeted 28 percent fewer aliens for deportation from the interior in 2013 than in 2012, despite sustained high numbers of encounters in the Criminal Alien and Secure Communities programs.
  • Every ICE field office but one reported a decline in interior enforcement activity.
  • ICE reports that there are more than 870,000 aliens on its docket who have been ordered removed, but who remain in defiance of the law.
  • Under current policies, an alien's family relationships, political considerations, attention from advocacy groups, and other factors not related to public safety can trump even serious criminal convictions and result in the termination of a deportation case.
  • Less than 2 percent of ICE's caseload was in detention at the end of fiscal year 2013. About three-fourths of the aliens ICE detained in 2013 had criminal and/or immigration convictions so serious that the detention was required by statute.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1985. It is the nation's only think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States.

Contact: Marguerite Telford
[email protected], 202-466-8185

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SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies

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