By Jim Kouri
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent another letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano following the Department’s continued delay in providing a list of illegal and criminal immigrants that have been flagged by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) but have not been detained or placed in removal proceedings by the agency.
If DHS fails to produce the requested data in its entirety by December 9, the Committee intends to move forward and consider a resolution to hold DHS in contempt of Congress, Rep. Smith stated. December 9 came and went without a Napolitano response.
On November 18, Chairman Smith warned DHS in a letter that the Committee plans to seek enforcement of the subpoena to the fullest extent allowed by the law. But in a letter dated December 2, DHS again did not provide documents responsive to the subpoena. Instead, DHS officials requested another 30 days to compile additional information that has not yet been formally requested by the Committee. According to DHS officials’ own statements, the subpoenaed information already has been compiled, but they refuse to hand it over to the House Judiciary Committee.
The Immigration Subcommittee authorized the issuance of the subpoena by a vote of 7-4. Rep Smith asked for the subpoenaed information from DHS in August. But as of yet, the agency has not provided the requested information.
“For the past two months, the Department of Homeland Security has dragged their feet and stonewalled my request for information. The Administration is wrongfully trying to keep crucial information from the American people. The American people have a right to know what crimes 300,000 immigrants have committed after ICE intentionally chose not to detain them,” said Chairman Smith.
“Are administration officials afraid that the information will show that illegal immigrants intentionally released by ICE have committed crimes that could have been prevented? Why else would they hide the information?”
“We gave the Obama administration two months’ notice of our request. Unfortunately, their continued refusal to provide the information has left us no choice other than to subpoena the relevant documents,” Rep. Smith stated.
Smith stated that the Administration is obviously not acting in good faith and is wrongfully trying to keep crucial information from the American people. They are on the verge of obstructing the legitimate role of Congress.”
In the past, Chairman Smith wrote to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano requesting a list of the criminal immigrants that were brought to the attention of ICE but not detained or processed for removal. DHS originally stated they had the information and would be able to provide it to the Chairman, but to date DHS has not given Chairman Smith the list as promised. Instead, DHS only provided general information on the Secure Communities program.
Last week, Secretary Napolitano testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding DHS oversight. During the hearing, Chairman Smith again requested the information and gave DHS a deadline. Chairman Smith stated if the information was not provided by DHS, he would have no choice but to issue a subpoena.
The Secure Communities program’s task is to keep U.S. neighborhoods safe by identifying illegal and criminal immigrants in police custody who have been arrested and fingerprinted. But the Obama administration recently made changes to Secure Communities that could open the door to allow millions of illegal and criminal immigrants to avoid current immigration laws.
Specifically, the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — John Morton — issued two memos to agency officials on how to exercise blanket “prosecutorial discretion,” such as granting deferred action, deciding whom to stop, question, arrest, or detain, and dismissing a removal proceeding. While this authority is justifiable when exercised responsibly, the Obama administration has used it recklessly, according to law enforcement sources.
As part of the Committee’s oversight responsibility, four months ago Chairman Smith requested unique identifiers for the criminal immigrants intentionally released by ICE so that the Committee can cross-check the information to see if they have gone on to commit more crimes. This data will be used to inform Congress on the problem of criminal immigrants and their affect on public safety.