More immigrant felons freed than initially reported
PHOENIX -- Under pressure from lawmakers, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has disclosed new details about the criminal backgrounds of some of the approximately 2,200 immigration detainees let out of custody in February in anticipation of spending cuts, revealing that 32 of the 622 convicted criminals released nationwide had multiple felony convictions.
The new details, released in a briefing made to a Capitol Hill investigatory panel, raised more questions about the decision in February by Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials to release 2,226 immigration detainees from facilities in Arizona and several other states in order to slow rising detention costs in the face of $300 million in automatic budget cuts known as the sequester, which kicked in March 1.
During two congressional hearings in March, ICE Director John Morton insisted that only detainees who did not pose a threat to public safety were released and that all remained under supervision.
But information released by DHS officials in response to requests from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations shows that ICE has taken back into custody 58 of the convicted criminals released nationally after a review showed the seriousness of their offenses.
It took DHS officials nearly three months to release details about the criminal backgrounds, and the information was disclosed only after the subcommittee threatened to subpoena DHS officials, according to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking GOP member of the subcommittee, and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman.