An estimated 139,000 immigrants from eight countries – China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Jamaica, Laos, and Vietnam – have been ordered removed from the U.S. but have not been deported because of delays or refusals by foreign governments to issue the required travel documents. Of those 139,000, about 18,000 have criminal convictions, say estimates provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and reported by the Houston Chronicle.
Dent wants to bar aid to countries that deny or unreasonably delay attempts to send back their citizens. The bills also contain provisions that would prohibit U.S. officials from issuing visas to people from countries that block the repatriation of immigrants. Dent said the delays and denials by foreign governments have put convicted criminals eligible for deportation back on U.S. streets and have cut into the nation’s immigration detention budget. “We do everything we can to return individuals to their home country,” said Gregory Palmore, an ICE spokesman in Houston. He said that includes trying to negotiate new repatriation agreements such as the one brokered in January with Vietnam. That is expected to lead to the deportation of 1,500 Vietnamese immigrants. Human rights advocates charge that ICE still allows some detainees to languish in detention.