With the Department of Homeland Security finalizing a review of its deportation practices to see how they can be conducted more humanely, critics cite a report that found 36,007 convicted criminals were released by immigration officials last year to call for an end to the review, USA Today reports. In 2013, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials freed 193 people who had been convicted of homicide, 426 of sexual assault, 303 of kidnapping and more than 16,000 with drunken-driving records.
The author of the report, the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for lower levels of immigration, said those releases show that the administration needs to be toughening its immigration enforcement efforts, not weakening them. “In light of these numbers, it will be hard to justify further relaxation of enforcement or reductions in detention capacity, as the administration has sought,” said Jessica Vaughan, the center’s director of policy studies. Federal spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said the report misses the fact that many of the releases were carried out under orders from U.S. courts. Three-fourths of those released with murder convictions were “mandatory releases,” she said.