Inhofe introduces bill to close immigration catch-and-release loophole

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today re-introduced Keep Our Communities Safe Act (S.291) with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The legislation would close the legal loophole created by the U.S. Supreme Court in Zadvydas v. Davis case (2001) that requires immigration authorities to release back into the United States any immigrant that has not been accepted for deportation to other countries after being detained for six months. This practice is commonly referred to as “catch and release.”

“The Obama Administration is failing to protect American communities with its lackadaisical immigration policies,” Inhofe said. “While the president issues executive orders to flood our borders with illegal immigrants, he could be using his pen and phone to close a dangerous loophole that is allowing immigrants, who have committed a crime of violence or an aggravated felony, to roam freely in the United States. Currently, if no other country will accept a convicted immigrant for deportation within six months, federal policy instructs for them to be released back into the United States. In 2013 alone, more than 36,000 immigrants convicted for crimes such as homicide and sexual assault were released back into our communities after their countries of origin failed to respond to deportation orders. Keep Our Communities Safe Act would close the catch-and-release loophole and require DHS to re-certify every six months if a person is a threat. I urge Congress to take up this legislation and help protect America from the several thousands of violent offenders currently being released back into the United States each year."

This bill allows for DHS to detain non-removable immigrants beyond six months in these specific situations:

·         The alien will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future;

·         The alien would have been removed but for the alien’s refusal to make all reasonable efforts to comply and cooperate with the Secretary’s efforts to        remove him;

·         The alien has a highly contagious disease;

·         Release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences;

·         Release would threaten national security; or

·         Release would threaten the safety of the community and the alien either is an aggravated felon or has committed a crime of violence.

Background:

A Vietnamese immigrant, Binh Thai Luc, was ordered deported in 2006 after serving time in prison for armed robbery and assault. Due to the Supreme Court decision in Zadvydas v.Davis, Luc was released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody when Vietnam refused to admit him. He is now facing charges for the murder of 5 people in San Francisco in March of 2012.

In 2013, more than 36,000 criminally convicted aliens were released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Together, those released had nearly 88,000 convictions, including:

·         193 homicide convictions

·         426 sexual Assault convictions

·         1,075 aggravated assault convictions

·         16,070 DUI convictions

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