ICE Special Agent detaining a suspect

Lawmakers Grill ICE Chief Over Illegal Alien Detainees Released‏

The House Judiciary Committee held a full committee hearing on Tuesday to probe the release of criminal and illegal aliens who are considered priorities for deportation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division.

Just recently, the House Judiciary Committee obtained an internal ICE document that reveals the agency planned to release thousands of detained criminal and illegal immigrants into U.S. communities to reduce the agency’s costs in light of sequestration.

According to John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, those released included aliens convicted of or charged with fraud, theft, or drunk driving offenses; documented gang members such as MS-13 gang-bangers; those who have been arrested for but not convicted of a serious crime; fugitives; and illegal aliens with final removal orders.

As of Feb. 15, 2013, the document shows that ICE had roughly 31,000 illegal and criminal immigrants in detention and planned to reduce that number to less than 26,000 by March 31, 2013. Additionally, ICE has decided to release detainees into the American population even though detention beds are below their average daily requirement of 34,000, according to the ICE document.

At the hearing, ICE Director John Morton testified before the committee, after which House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) released the following statements on the ICE oversight hearing.

Chairman Goodlatte stated: “It’s appalling that Administration officials used scare tactics to promote their political agenda on sequestration by releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the enforcement of our immigration laws but this decision undercuts the safety of our communities and puts Americans’ lives at risk. Members of the House Judiciary Committee have a lot of questions for Director Morton and it is important that we get to the truth about who knew about this and who authorized the release.”

Subcommittee Chairman Gowdy stated: “ICE contends it only detains the ‘worst of the worst;’ therefore it necessarily follows ICE just released thousands of the ‘worst of the worst’ onto our streets. It strains credibility to understand why then the first cost-saving measure ICE pursued was to release detainees from custody.

Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP, formerly Fifth Vice-President, is currently a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, an editor for, and he's a columnist for In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB ( Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

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