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June 22, 2016

Tulsa World: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe: Keep Our Communities Safe Act would protect public from criminal illegal aliens

Tulsa County commissioners on Monday voted to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain their inmates and train local deputies to refer threats or violent criminals to federal authorities.

Entering into a memorandum of understanding has been a routine procedure until last week when it was temporarily delayed due to protests by illegal immigrant activists — the same type of activists you see across the country pushing sanctuary policies that protect criminal aliens and allow them to continue committing crimes against our citizens.

Both the Tulsa County commissioners and Tulsa County Sheriff stand by the importance of the ICE program that works with local law enforcement to keep criminal aliens off our streets. Hundreds of sheriffs across the country just want to do their job of keeping criminals off the streets, and yet their efforts are continually frustrated by liberal activists who seek to shield those same criminals from the consequences of their actions.

We should stand with our local law enforcement who work every day to ensure the safety of others.

Whether criminal immigrants are here legally or illegally, it should not be controversial to deny them the privilege of staying in our country when they are committing crimes such as homicide, kidnappings, assault, and sex offenses. When we refuse to do so, we reward their behavior and give them the opportunity to continue violating our citizens.

In 2014, ICE released over 30,000 criminal aliens from custody and within one year, more than 1,800 of them went on to commit over 2,500 new crimes. To boil it down even further, between 2010 and 2015, we’ve had 135 preventable homicides occur in our communities across the country by criminal aliens that have been released by the administration. This is unacceptable.

One of the reasons criminal aliens have been released is because of two little-known Supreme Court cases. These cases determined that criminal aliens cannot be detained longer than six months while awaiting deportation. However, there are many factors that can prevent a deportation from taking place within that six-month period, which in turn sets the criminal alien up to simply be released.

In order to address this issue, I introduced the Keep Our Communities Safe Act in the past two Congresses, and I introduced it as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill, currently before the Senate. This legislation would allow for the Department of Homeland Security to petition the courts and hold a criminally convicted alien for renewable, six-month periods until deportation occurs if the secretary deems the alien would be a threat to national security or the safety of the community, among other reasons.

Some organizations, such as the ACLU, believe this bill amounts to indefinite detention in violation of a criminal’s due process rights. However, this bill requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to recertify that a person is a threat every six months.

Furthermore, an alien can submit evidence for a review of his detention and will still have access to our courts, giving judges a say in the process.

I’m working to bring this legislation up for a vote so that we can continue to support sheriffs across the nation who are working to prevent crimes and keep our communities safe.

Jim Inhofe, a Republican, is Oklahoma’s senior U.S. senator.


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