The Corner

Politics & Policy

Shouldn’t the Public Know When ICE Releases Criminal Aliens? Georgia Bill Says ‘Yes’

John Fonte noted in these pages last week that the new DHS office serving victims of criminal aliens (dubbed VOICE) will help challenge the dominant media narrative about immigration. Along with the complementary initiative to systematically provide the public with information on crimes committed by released criminal aliens, Fonte says it represents “the opening round of a long-overdue declaration of (political) war on the sanctuary cities, counties, and states that protect criminal aliens.”

This is all in response to President Trump’s executive order on interior immigration enforcement, which directed DHS to, among other things, “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.”

Rather than wait for the feds, lawmakers in Georgia have decided to move ahead along similar lines to make available information on criminal aliens. Legislation is working its way through the state legislature that would require the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to share with the public information – already being provided to it by ICE – on criminal aliens released from federal custody.

ICE shares information nationwide, through a system called Enforcement Integrated Database (EID) and Law Enforcement Notification System (LENS), when it releases criminal aliens who have been convicted of “violent or serious crimes” like “certain felonies and misdemeanors – such as homicide, rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery, and kidnapping.”

Despite the fact that illegal aliens are not covered under the Privacy Act of 1974, and that President Trump has reversed policy to the contrary, ICE has privacy concerns on the data and in at least one of ICE’s “Privacy Impact Assessment Updates” says “ensuring that the notification is shared with the appropriate entities is a responsibility of the law enforcement agency initially receiving the data, and any further dissemination may be governed by the state’s laws and policies on information sharing.”

Thus the motivation for a state law requiring that the GBI begin to send the information to Georgia sheriffs and to post it on its official website for public education and warning. The bill, HB 452, isn’t a lark by amateurs; included among its co-sponsors is Rep. Bill Hitchens, former Director of the Georgia Office of Homeland Security, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, and Colonel of the Georgia State Patrol.

The legislation passed the state House of Representatives earlier this month on a 144-26 vote. It will now be considered by the state Senate, where the Republicans have a two-thirds majority.

With that kind of dominance, passage may seem guaranteed, but my pro-enforcement friend on the ground in Georgia, D.A. King, has been working on this for about eighteen months and the says the outcome in the Senate is far from certain, with the possibility that Big Business might try to kill the measure.

As it is, King said the Atlanta Journal Constitution published a deceptive story on the bill (surprise!) and the state’s main corporate-funded anti-borders group, GALEO, has launched a major push to stop it (“anti-immigrant,” “bigotry,” “intolerance” – you know the drill).

I was glad to hear from King – who runs the Dustin Inman Society, named after a Georgia teen killed by an illegal alien – that the office of U.S. Sen. David Perdue (who, with Tim Cotton, has co-sponsored the Raise Act to reform legal immigration) was helpful in providing information to get the bill written.

We’ll know the outcome by March 30, when the Georgia legislature’s session ends. If passed, the bill could serve as a model for other states. That might seem unnecessary given President Trump’s commitment to transparency regarding criminal alien information. But such transparency needs to be institutionalized so it’s harder for a President Warren (or President Perez or President Ellison!) to reverse it a few years down the road.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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