Politics & Policy

Judiciary Chairs: Obama’s Immigration Policies May Help Sex Offenders Avoid Deportation

(Jinga80/Dreamstime)

Congressional Republicans are pressing the Department of Homeland Security about two illegal-immigrant sex offenders in federal custody, asking if President Obama’s immigration policies inadvertently shelter such offenders from deportation.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about the men in question. One benefited from Chicago’s sanctuary city policies, while the other “has confessed to multiple assaults” and was arrested last week. “We have concerns about how these two criminal aliens will be addressed by your Department, especially considering that the Administration’s new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) fails to address many criminal aliens,” they wrote.

“As far as we know, [the second man] would not fall under the administration’s priorities under [the Priority Enforcement Program] because he does not have a prior criminal conviction.”

The letter continues a summer-long effort that the lawmakers have made to prod the administration into tightening its enforcement policies. In their effort to pressure President Obama, the Judiciary chairmen have highlighted crimes committed by illegal immigrants who were then either released by local officials in jurisdictions with sanctuary-city policies, or benefited from the executive orders that the president issued last year.

#share#Last week, Goodlatte and Grassley pressed Johnson to act on his stated opposition to sanctuary cities. “While your words are encouraging, the lack of action does not instill confidence that the administration is serious about the problem,” they wrote. “In fact, your Department continues to employ the Priority Enforcement Program, and a policy of requesting cooperation from states and locals only when an individual is convicted of a serious crime. The administration is intent on issuing fewer detainers, even on individuals who may pose a threat but do not have a criminal conviction.”

There are about 340 local jurisdictions with sanctuary policies in the United States, according to a report released by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) last week. “PEP explicitly allows jurisdictions to obstruct immigration enforcement by ignoring detainers or barring ICE access to jails,” that report noted.

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.

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