The second panel included two parents of young people killed by illegals who should have been deported, the Santa Maria CA Police Chief Ralph Martin and one open borders enthusiast.
Chairman Jason Chaffetz was still exasperated when he appeared on Fox with Greta van Susteren later in the day:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: The Obama administration under fire at a House hearing. The Department of Homeland Security has released thousands of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes on US soil, including some behind more than 200 murders.One of the more shocking facts underlined in the hearing was the fact that the government has plenty of capacity for holding criminals, but releases them anyway.
(Hearing clip) CHAIRMAN JASON CHAFFETZ: You have somebody who commits homicide? Yes, we want them deported. That’s the law.
ICE DIRECTOR SARAH SALDANA: Then put it in the statute, sir.
CHAFFETZ: There’s a whole list of categories there that are a harm to public safety, including those that commit homicide that you went ahead and released anyway. And so that law is crystal clear. You are making these discretionary choices in releasing these people out in the public and they’re committing more crimes, and I don’t understand why you don’t deport them.
SALDANA: To sit there and say that those proud women and men of law enforcement in ICE are choosing to release criminals is absolutely unforgivable. I am very proud of representing those men and women. Many of them are former police officers, sheriff’s department members, and they do not go around trying to put criminals on the streets. (End hearing clip)
VAN SUSTEREN: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman who led today’s hearing Congressman Jason Chaffetz goes on the record. Very good evening sir. Okay, there are some people who are released who are criminals from prison, right?
CHAFFETZ: Eight-six thousand of them over a three-year period.
VAN SUSTEREN: Okay, who makes the decision to release and how do they pick and choose?
CHAFFETZ: Well it seems to be random, but everything from homicide to DUIs to assault to sexual battery to — I mean you name the violent crime — they have released them back out to the public, rather than either detaining them, or even better yet, deporting them
VAN SUSTEREN: These people have been arrested for these crimes and gotten sentences?
CHAFFETZ: They are here illegally, they committed a crime, they were convicted of that crime, they either served that time or they just released them back out in the public instead of actually saying, now that you’ve served your senior sentence your debt to the United States, we’re gonna send you back to the country from which you came — they don’t do that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why don’t they do that?
CHAFFETZ: It’s ridiculous; there’s no acceptable answer. They tried to reprogram over $100,000,000 that the congress had, allocated for these deportations they wanted to get that money back rather than do it. There’s a minimum of 34,000 beds for these types of people. Yet the department only wants to house about 30,000, and what they’ve done is they’ve released them out on the streets. And more than 200 of those people that were in our detention, that had committed a crime were released back into the public and committed homicide.
VAN SUSTEREN: Somebody obviously makes a decision: okay we’re going to release you and we’re gonna release you on the street we’re not going to deport — who does that?
CHAFFETZ: The Department of Homeland Security.
VAN SUSTEREN: Who is that? Is that like one person who’s got the job, some nameless faceless bureaucrat in the government who gets to make that decision?
CHAFFETZ: You look at Jeh Johnson who’s the secretary, then you look at the director who was with us today, it was the director of Immigration Customs Enforcement and they’re not doing it. Some of them get deported but when you release 86,000 people over three years into the public that have already committed crimes…
VAN SUSTEREN: But all you have to do is look at their crimes — if you stole pack of gum from the grocery store, that’s very different,
CHAFFETZ: More than 12,000 of these were DUIs, and I think that’s a fairly serious crime.
VAN SUSTEREN: It’s a very serious crime.
CHAFFETZ: But everything from sexual assault to robbery to homicide. The 86,000 represents three years, so basically divide it by three. Not even one is acceptable. We heard witnesses today whose family members were killed, and how do you look those people in the eye? They should be out of the country. One of the excuses is, well those countries won’t take them back.
VAN SUSTEREN: Just drop them off.
CHAFFETZ: Don’t give them any more foreign aid and do what the law says, and that is make sure that the Secretary of State does not give those countries any more visas so more people can come to this country. Get their attention.
Illegal immigrant criminals released into U.S. despite thousands of vacant detention beds, By Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, Thursday, April 28, 2016
Homeland Security is leaving thousands of detention beds empty even as it voluntarily releases thousands of murderers, kidnappers and other criminals, the chief of deportations admitted to Congress on Thursday as she faced families of those killed by freed illegal immigrant convicts.
“We strive for perfect, but we are human and we fall short sometimes,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah R. Saldana told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Ms. Saldana said the agency now has 2,000 beds vacant out of the 34,000 it is supposed to have available on the average day.
Government statistics show that in 2015, ICE averaged 28,168 detainees — meaning some 5,800 beds left unused, even as the agency released dangerous convicts back into the community to await the outcomes of their immigration proceedings.
One of those people released last year was Jean Jacques, a Haitian who served time for attempted murder and whom ICE tried to deport, but whom Haiti refused to take back. ICE released him, and he would go on to stab a young woman, Casey Chadwick, in her Connecticut apartment.
“If ICE and Homeland Security had done their job, Casey would not have died,” her mother, Wendy Hartling, told lawmakers just minutes after Ms. Saldana testified.
Both Democrats and Republicans were inclined to agree, demanding answers about why officials let Haiti stymie Jacques’ deportation last year.
Ms. Saldana blamed the State Department, saying it’s that agency’s call on how much pressure to use on other governments. But lawmakers weren’t satisfied, pointing to the law that says it’s up to the immigration service to start the process by reporting other countries’ bad behavior.
Ms. Saldana insisted she’s made those reports, but couldn’t remember which countries she’d cited. Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz demanded she provide all of those letters within a week — and he warned her not to try to hide behind secrecy.
“Let’s know and understand which countries are not taking back the criminals that came here illegally,” he said.
In 2015 ICE released 19,723 criminals back into communities while they were awaiting their immigration trials.
Some 10,175 of those were released on bond by an immigration judge — Ms. Saldana couldn’t say how often her officers object to that bond — and 2,166 others were released because they’d been held the maximum amount of time allowed under a 2001 Supreme Court ruling.
But while 89 criminals were released because their countries wouldn’t take them back — the situation Jacques was in — another 7,293 were released at ICE’s own discretion. It’s that last category that has Congress furious, particularly with more than 5,800 detention beds that went empty last year.
“We just keep pouring more and more money into your agency, and we keep getting less and less,” Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., Tennessee Republican, told Ms. Saldana. “Are you embarrassed in any way?”
Ms. Saldana blamed Congress, saying the law only requires ICE to hold some criminals. She said if lawmakers want her to detain all murderers, they’ll need to write it into the law.
She also said about two-thirds of the releases last year were pursuant to court orders or to a 2001 Supreme Court decision, so her office is only responsible for about 7,000 of the criminals put on the streets.
“To sit there and say that the proud women and men of law enforcement and ICE are choosing to release criminals is absolutely unforgivable,” she said. “They do not go around trying to put criminals on the streets.”
Thursday’s hearing was the latest in a string of difficult appearances before Congress.
Last year, testifying to the same committee, she threw her support behind legislation that would have cracked down on sanctuary cities — then, within a day, she renounced her comments after feeling tremendous pressure from immigrant rights groups.
At another hearing she gave a grossly inflated estimate of the number of illegal immigrants to Congress, saying it could be as high as 15 million. On Thursday she gave a different number of 11.2 million — much closer to the estimates of most experts.
On Thursday she stepped off on a wrong foot from the start of her testimony by criticizing the committee’s inquiry into criminal releases as “political banter.” She later said she didn’t intend to target Republicans with that attack.