More than 100,000 illegal immigrants either convicted of crimes or facing charges were released from U.S. jails by the federal government in 2013 while they waited for their cases to proceed, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas said Thursday on Newsmax TV.
Besides allowing 36,000 soon-to-be-deported convicts back into local communities, Obama customs officials approved releases for 68,000 more illegal immigrants whose criminal proceedings were still underway, the House Republican and Homeland Security Committee member told "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth.
"It's actually worse than this 36,000," said Smith. "There's another 68,000 individuals who were charged with crimes, who were in our jails last year, who were also released without any effort to deport them."
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Smith said his numbers came from the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division — but only because an independent think tank, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), obtained internal DHS documents
. The department itself, said Smith, is stonewalling.
"This is information that didn't come from the Department of Homeland Security — they still refuse to give us the information." said Smith. "When we get to all the facts, my guess is it's going to be a lot worse than we even think it is."
The convictions and charges among those conditionally released were for rape, murder, domestic violence, burglary, theft, traffic violations and other offenses.
first reported on the releases, ICE issued a statement saying "many of the individuals … were released under restrictions such as GPS monitoring," and at the discretion of law enforcement professionals.
Smith has likened the releases to a mass prison break.
"When you have this administration — or any administration — releasing 36,000 individuals who have been convicted of 88,000 crimes and putting them back into our communities, back onto the streets — that is something that goes almost beyond comprehension, that any administration would do that," he said Thursday. "And it is the equivalent of a jailbreak because these people are being released. They're not being deported as they should be."
Smith said the revelations don't help to advance the immigration overhaul being championed by President Obama and debated in Congress.
"I have heard the speaker and other of our Republican leaders say that we can't trust the president to enforce current immigration laws and I agree with them on that," he said.
"If we can't trust the president to enforce current immigration laws and in fact if they're undermining immigration laws, the president can certainly not be trusted to enforce future immigration laws and this absolutely does slow down the process towards any kind of an amnesty bill."
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