Cornyn Demands Hearings on ICE Detainee Releases
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WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary’s Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security Subcommittee, today wrote to Subcommittee Chairman U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to demand hearings following the recent decision by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release thousands of detainees from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities without warning, including hundreds in Texas:
“[A]t least 700 of these detainees were directly released into Texas. We also know that at least 30 percent of these released detainees had criminal records--potentially including aggravated assault, financial crimes, theft, larceny, drug offenses, drunk-driving, and domestic violence,” wrote Sen. Cornyn.
“Though some have suggested that these released criminals were not dangerous offenders, the victims of assault, drug crimes, theft, drunk driving, and domestic violence would strongly disagree.
“Texans and the rest of America have a right to know exactly what kinds of criminals were released into their communities by DHS and to see that the persons who made these decisions are held fully accountable.”
Text of Sen. Cornyn’s letter to Sen. Schumer is below:
March 21, 2013
Chairman Charles Schumer
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, I am writing to request that the Subcommittee conduct full oversight of the recent United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency decision to release 2,228 persons from immigration detention, hundreds into Texas, for no legitimate reason. These actions, made at the direction of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership, call into question the Department’s commitment to its core national security missions and raise serious concerns about the judgment of high-level DHS officials. As the Subcommittee with oversight responsibility for the Department of Homeland Security, I believe that it is our duty to hold hearings on this matter in the next month.
Though multiple members of Congress and state governors have requested detailed information about these DHS actions, we have yet to receive a response from the Department. What we do know is that at least 700 of these detainees were directly released into Texas. We also know that at least 30 percent of these released detainees had criminal records--potentially including aggravated assault, financial crimes, theft, larceny, drug offenses, drunk-driving, and domestic violence. At least 8-10 of the criminals released by DHS were classified as “Level one offenders”--the most dangerous group of criminals detained by ICE. This is unacceptable.
I am also very troubled that senior DHS officials, including ICE Director John Morton, have attempted to downplay the seriousness of releasing more than 600 criminals from their custody and into the general population. Though some have suggested that these released criminals were not dangerous offenders, the victims of assault, drug crimes, theft, drunk driving, and domestic violence would strongly disagree. Texans and the rest of America have a right to know exactly what kinds of criminals were released into their communities by DHS and to see that the persons who made these decisions are held fully accountable. I look forward to working with you to find a mutually agreeable date and time for an oversight hearing.
Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance and Judiciary Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.
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