WASHINGTON – A group of U.S. Senators have proposed an amendment to the Continuing Resolution currently being debated in the Senate that would require the Department of Homeland Security to provide Congress with information about the illegal immigrants who are being released for what the administration says is budget considerations. The amendment is led by Senator Chuck Grassley, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and cosponsored by Senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, David Vitter of Louisiana, John Boozman of Arkansas, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Dan Coats of Indiana. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is a cosponsor of the amendment.
“When ICE recently released thousands of illegal immigrants from detention facilities, it was pretty clear that the administration didn’t have control of the situation and didn’t consider the ramifications to public safety,” Grassley said. “The administration has a constitutional duty to faithfully uphold the laws, and when they don’t, the American people deserve an explanation.”
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is charged with doing exactly what its name implies, enforcing the nation’s immigration laws,” said Inhofe. “The Obama Administration’s decision to release hundreds of illegal immigrants who were caught breaking these laws is irresponsible and goes against the purpose of this agency. This amendment requires ICE to explain who was released and the offenses they committed. Americans deserve accountability when it comes to securing our borders and law-abiding immigrants deserve that respect.”
“The timing of DHS’s release is simply crass politics. President Obama has had 18 months to prepare for budget cuts, but the only area they can think to scale back is in the detention of criminals? I’m not buying it,” said Vitter.
“The release of illegal immigrants is unacceptable. Blaming this flawed action on budget cuts shows the Obama Administration isn’t serious about real immigration reform and is instead using budget cuts to bypass Congress,” Boozman said.
“Releasing illegal immigrants in preparation for cuts in spending is a political stunt,” Senator Roberts said. “The funding and personnel were available at the time to continue to house these detainees and this decision to ignore the rule of law, under the guise of pending spending cuts, is disturbing.”
“Releasing these detainees has the potential to put communities at risk and the American people deserve an explanation,” said Coats. “We need answers on who made this decision, why officials blamed the action on budget cuts when ICE mismanaged its own resources and how this policy will be modified.”
Specifically, the amendment would require Immigration Customs and Enforcement to report to the Appropriations and Judiciary Committees about how the department will manage its budget in order to maintain the 34,000 detention beds authorized by Congress. The amendment also requires Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to provide information on the illegal immigrants released, the conviction or charge for which they were detained, their immigration status, whether they had an existing order of deportation, and the terms of release.
The Senators said that their amendment is in response to the administration releasing criminal illegal immigrants because of “budgetary reasons.” In late February, it was reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement had released a “few hundred” illegal immigrants from custody, but it was determined later that the administration had drastically misrepresented the number to the public and more than 2000 criminal illegal immigrants had been released from custody. The release of the illegal immigrants was circumspect because sequester had not been implemented, yet the administration was citing it as the rationale for releasing the illegal immigrants.