More than 30,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records were released by federal officials last fiscal year — on top of the over 36,000 who were released the previous year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Wednesday.
The agency, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, said it had released 30,558 criminal illegals in fiscal 2014. The figure was down from the 36,007 criminals released in 2013.
The statistics were first reported by The Washington Times.
The fiscal 2013 figures include more than 2,000 criminal illegals who were released in February 2013 under planned sequestration cuts. More than 600 were known criminals.
Sarah Saldaña, who took as head of ICE last August, said the latest number "still concerns me," telling the Times that overcrowding would no longer be the primary reason for releasing criminal illegals.
All pending cases will now be approved by a top supervisor, she said.
"I am determined to continue to take every possible measure to ensure the public’s safety and the removal of dangerous criminals," Saldaña told the Times.
The illegals are required to have "supervised release" — monitoring by federal authorities — but Saldaña said those efforts would be toughened to try to prevent them from committing new crimes.
The agency said many of the illegals were released because of a previous court order that prohibited authorities from holding them indefinitely if their home countries would not take them back.
Republicans have sought to rewrite the law so that serious criminal illegals could be held longer. They have also been unsuccessful in getting the Obama administration to deny visas to leaders of countries that refuse to take their citizens back, the Times reports.
Law-enforcement officials have also long slammed the Obama's administration's release of criminal illegals — regardless of the reason — saying they endanger Americans and effectively tell immigrants there are no consequences for their actions.
"The administration’s immigration lawlessness knows no bounds," Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, told Newsmax of the new figures. The GOP senator has long battled the White House on immigration reform.
No specifics on criminal offenses were included in ICE's breakdown Wednesday, but the breakdown for the 36,007 released in fiscal 2013 includes: 193 convicted of homicide, 426 of sexual assault, 303 of kidnapping, and 16,070 of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The agency said most of the homicide convicts released were court-ordered, the Times reports.
Jessica Vaughan, policy director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said the problem rested with supervisors.
"It's the supervisors who are ordering the releases, and the intent of the supervision is to make sure that officers in the field are not detaining people, not the other way around," she told the Times. "The problem is most definitely the policies, not the officers.
"Creating more levels of review and red tape is not going to solve that problem," she said.
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