States pushing back against Biden’s ‘prison-to-streets pipeline’ for criminal illegal immigrants – and want the real numbers

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WASHINGTON, DC — The Biden administration has been accused of allowing a more than eleven-fold increase in the number of illegal immigrant offenders released from Texas prisons and into the general U.S. population.

The releases are happening despite federal immigration law that requires the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take convicts into custody after serving their time, usually in advance of deportation, according to a lengthy investigative report by James Varney of Real Clear Investigations.

While criminal immigrants are being released, critical Enforcement and Removal Operations [ERO] data and metrics are not.

The locking down of this information suggests the Biden administration might be trying to hide the magnitude of how many illegal convicts are running loose in the U.S. since the president changed ICE’s custody policy last year.

Varney said the disclosure was discovered when state-initiated litigation emerged in response to the Biden administration’s secretive and lenient handling of immigrants and the immediate weakening of ICE’s custody policy:

“Soon after President Biden assumed office a year ago January, agents of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement began dropping their usually automatic requests to take custody from Texas authorities of immigrant convicts set to be released from the state’s prisons and jails, so they could be deported.

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“In the past, few such convicts were exempt from the process. From 2017 to 2020, ICE had declined to take into custody from Texas no more than a dozen such so-called ‘detainers’ a year – typically those in poor health or with unresolved immigration issues.

“But from January 2021 to February of this year, Texas law enforcement officials testified in federal court last month, ICE declined to take custody of 170 – a number Texas persuaded ICE to winnow down to 141, but still an exponential increase over the years of the Trump administration. That increase reflects the impact in just one state of the new nationwide policy.”

With public safety as a major consideration, several states have filed lawsuits against the Department of Homeland Security and other federal immigration agencies for allowing the release of criminal offenders into U.S. neighborhoods instead of redirecting the convicts into ICE’s custody.

For example, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, whose state has joined Texas in suing the various federal agencies, said testimony in the case being heard in U.S. District Court in Houston is revealing that the Biden administration does not want the public to see how similar releases unfolded nationally in its first-year rollout.

Landry told Real Clear Investigations:

“I’m appalled the Biden administration has adopted a policy of releasing alien drug cartel members, human traffickers and child sex abusers onto American streets.”

According to Varney’s report, Arizona, Ohio and Montana have filed a similar lawsuit in Ohio:

“Last week the judge in that case, U.S. District Judge Michael Newman, appointed by President Trump, issued a preliminary injunction favoring the three states. ‘Can the Executive displace clear congressional command in the name of resource allocation and enforcement goals? Here, the answer is no,’ Newman wrote.”

Varney noted that last year Texas officials were “perplexed and irate” upon learning that ICE had a new policy that resulted in the agency dropping detainers on 11 released inmates in a single day.

Normally, according to the Texas officials, 11 dropped detainers from ICE would have been the typical annual number of each year prior to 2021 for the agency.

However, ICE’s new policy was drafted only 16 days after President Biden was sworn in.

Varney further reported that Jason Clark, chief of staff for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, testified about ICE’s suddenly new policy:

“They said, ‘It’s coming from above and we’re just following the orders.’

“I was alarmed by the changes that they had made and whether those persons were going to be released back into the public.”

ICE did not respond to inquiries from Real Clear Investigations, Varney noted.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, detainer information is not made public, so names, criminal records and current status of each of the illegal immigrant convicts were not disclosed, Varney said.

However, in court the names of a couple of offenders were revealed. Varney wrote:

But in court it emerged that among those released after a ‘final order of removal’ – and thus subject to deportation, at least in past years – was repeat offender Guillermo Torres, who was serving a five-year sentence after violating parole for smuggling more than 50 pounds of marijuana.

“Torres is a member of the Mexicles, a street gang with ties to drug cartels, according to Clark.

“Also avoiding deportation was Ruben De Leon, who had served five years for a 2016 conviction for intoxicated assault with a vehicle and serious bodily injury, according to Clark.

“Both men are now free. ‘We don’t know where they’re at,’ Clark testified.”

Clark said Texas authorities had to plead with ICE to change the agency’s mind about releasing two dozen offenders.

One offender was Juan Marroquin, who was being released after serving two years for molesting a 3-year-old and violating the terms of his probation.

Clark testified:

“Again, I had to intervene and call … to ask ‘Why is this person not being deported?’”

However, Clark was not always successful in preventing ICE from releasing criminals into the streets:

In the case of Jose Lara-Lopez, who served two years for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old, ICE officials dismissed Clark’s pleas and justified releasing the convict because, according to Clark, “this was the new guidance that was coming down.”

Varney suggested that figures on how many convicts have been released under Biden’s new policy are not transparent:

“Precisely how many convicts have been released under the new policy nationwide is one of numerous questions that former ICE officers and others say the Biden administration refuses to answer.

“Citing unnamed sources within DHS, the Washington Times reported on March 16 that in 2021, ICE  issued 46% fewer detainers to law enforcement agencies than it had the year before, while arresting 48% fewer convicted criminals and deporting 63% fewer criminals.

“ICE did not respond to questions from RCI [Real Clear Investigations] about the accuracy of the unreleased figures, or when it plans to release a more comprehensive and detailed annual report the agency has provided in the past.

“The administration’s lack of transparency, former ICE officers and others say, is notably reflected by the withholding of ICE’s long delayed annual Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) report, which should provide statistical detail about how the agency and its field offices are handling the record surge of immigrants.

“Traditionally, ICE has presented that report in December, two months after field offices turn in their data to headquarters. Those reports have provided a full complement of facts and figures on arrests broken down by crime categories, detainers and more. The agency did not meet that deadline.”

Instead, a much shorter “annual report” was released on March 11 that lacked details, according to Varney:

“The 31-page March report contains just seven pages addressing Enforcement and Removal Operations in general terms, while the comparable fiscal 2019 report had 32 pages dedicated exclusively to ERO.”

The much briefer report drew attention to ICE’s new policies instead, according to Varney’s report:

“The annual report and an accompanying press release stressed how new ICE policies, crafted through three separate memos issued between January and September 2021, were intended in large part to ensure that U.S. immigration enforcement operations ‘uphold our values as a nation,’ according to acting ICE Director Tae Johnson.

“To that end, the Biden administration stressed ‘prioritization’ and ‘discretion’ for field officers deciding when to make an arrest.

“As it proclaims these values, critics say, the March report obfuscates critical data. While a total number or arrests is given – ‘74,082 administrative arrests of noncitizens’ – there is no breakdown of where or when the arrests were made.

“It also introduces new categories such as ‘aggravated felons’ that traditionally were not used by the agency and lack precision.”

In addition, the March report lacks critical data on current ERO operations at the border and within the interior of the U.S., according the report. Therefore, no comparison to prior years can be made because it would be like comparing apples to oranges. 

Jon Feere, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies and a Trump administration appointee who served at ICE from 2017-2021, suggested the March report is not a genuine one:

“My biggest concern is people will think this is the enforcement report — it’s not.”

Feere added:

“The Biden administration is doing everything in its power to keep criminal aliens in our communities, and the reason they haven’t released the [ERO] report is because they don’t want the public, or the courts, to fully understand the harm to public safety and national security they’ve created.

“Thousands of deportable criminal aliens are in our neighborhoods precisely because of this administration, and the public deserves transparency.”

Varney noted:

“One goal of the Biden administration’s secrecy, experts said, may be to keep federal judges who are dealing with litigation over new immigration policies unclear on what exactly has happened.

“In his preliminary ruling in Ohio, however, Judge Newman expressed little confusion while siding with Arizona, Montana, and Ohio. He wrote that the administration’s 2021 memos that stress ‘prioritization’ and allow wide discretion in ICE arrests violate the clear intent of Congress.

“The most recent September memo from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Newman ruled, ‘neglects’ the law’s imposition of ‘a mandatory duty on DHS to detain certain noncitizens.’

“After Texas and Louisiana won a preliminary injunction last year against the Biden administration’s new DHS policies, the case has returned to federal district court after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed the ruling.”

Thomas Homan, acting ICE director from January 2017 to June 2018 after more than three decades with the federal immigration service, testified as a witness for the two states and told Real Clear Investigations that Biden’s policies are relaxing immigration laws and gambling with the public’s safety.

Homan said:

“There’s been no valid reason for the drop in detainees and crime rates haven’t gone down, we know that. Public safety is significantly threatened by this. They don’t really want to arrest these people and remove them.”

Homan suggested that the real objective may have something to do with introducing a national sanctuary policy and added:

“We don’t know if ICE is getting anyone out of Rikers Island, Cook County, or L.A. County jails. They’ve left a bunch of data out, but it’s clear the new policy has failed memorably and the real report must be devastating.”

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