Obama Unloads Immigration Detention Centers Ahead of Sequester
Hundreds of illegal immigrants have been released from detention ahead of possible budget cuts.
Hundreds of illegal immigrants have been released from detention ahead of possible budget cuts.
NYT (“Mass Release of Immigrants Is Tied to Impending Cuts“):
Federal immigration officials have released hundreds of detainees from detention centers around the country in recent days in a highly unusual effort to save money as automatic budget cuts loom in Washington, officials said Tuesday.
The government has not dropped the deportation cases against the immigrants, however. The detainees have been freed on supervised release while their cases continue in court, officials said.
But the decision angered many Republicans, including Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, who said the releases were a political gambit by the Obama administration that undermined the continuing negotiations over comprehensive immigration reform and jeopardized public safety.
“It’s abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration,” said Mr. Goodlatte, who, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is running the House hearings on immigration reform. “By releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets, the administration is needlessly endangering American lives.”
A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, said the detainees selected for release were “noncriminals and other low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal histories.”
Officials said the releases, which began last week and continued on Tuesday, were a response to the possibility of automatic governmentwide budget cuts, known as sequestration, which are scheduled to take effect on Friday.
On its face, this is a brazen, outrageous move, indeed. Seriously, letting people who are under custody awaiting deportation hearings out of prison just in case there are budget cuts? Really?
One has to get to paragraph 11 to find solace:
Under supervised release, defendants in immigration cases have to adhere to a strict reporting schedule that might include attending appointments at a regional immigration office as well as wearing electronic monitoring bracelets, officials said.
Advocacy groups, citing the cost of detaining immigrants, have for years argued that the federal government should make greater use of less expensive alternatives to detention for low-risk defendants being held on administrative charges.
One such group, the National Immigration Forum, estimated last year that it cost from $122 to $164 a day to hold a detainee in the federal immigration system. In contrast, the organization said, alternative forms of detention could cost from 30 cents to $14 a day per immigrant.
Among those released in the past week was Anthony Orlando Williams, 52, a Jamaican immigrant who spent nearly three years in a detention center in Georgia. “I’m good, man,” he said. “I’m free.”
Mr. Williams, in a telephone interview from Stone Mountain, Ga., said he became an illegal immigrant when he overstayed a visa in 1991. He was detained in 2010 by a sheriff’s deputy in Gwinnett County, Ga., when it was discovered that he had violated probation for a conviction in 2005 of simple assault, simple battery and child abuse, charges that sprung from a domestic dispute with his wife at the time. He was transferred to ICE custody and has been fighting a deportation order with the help of Families for Freedom, an immigrant support group in New York.
Mr. Williams was released last Friday. “That was a long, long, long run,” he said of his detention, adding that he has an appointment this Friday at an immigration office in Atlanta at which he expects to receive the terms of his supervised release — “a list of things I have to abide by.”
Human Rights First, another advocacy group in New York, which has been pressing for reform of the immigration detention system, said that 96 percent of immigrants enrolled in ICE’s alternatives-to-detention program attended their final hearing in 2011. That figure was up from the year before, in which 93 percent attended their final court hearings, said the group, citing statistics provided by B.I., a private contractor that provides monitoring and supervision services to ICE.
One the one hand, Williams is a bonafide criminal, having been committed of an actual criminal act, not just a violation of our immigration policies. On the other, it’s unconscionable that we’ve been holding him in confinement for three years while he waits for a hearing.
Moreover, this isn’t a “supervised” release; it’s a supervised release. The use of electronic monitoring and other safeguards actually makes good sense as an alternative to incarceration for all sorts of minor criminals, much less those waiting to adjudicate immigration disputes. It’s massively cheaper and more productive. Not to mention less cruel.
That takes all the fun out of it, doesn’t it?
I guess the Democrats feel comfortable enough in their dominant political position that they do not mind that they are reminding everyone that any plan or promise for border security and immigration enforcement that will be made to get Comprehensive Immigration Reform passed is a lie.
The Democrats are letting everyone know that in the long run, they have no plan to enforce current immigration rules or border security and definitely will not enforce it in the future.
Any chance this will become the default setting in these cases?
Nahhhhhhh…… that would make sense.
Glad to know you can’t be bothered to actually read James’ post…. Or maybe your reading comprehension just isn’t up to snuff?
@OzarkHillbilly: When a guy has a guitar with only one string, he plays that one string over…and over…and over…and over…
Do you want to know an amazing irony in connection with that loopy news account?
One of the primary reasons why there are so many lengthy and “cruel” immigration detentions, as our bleeding hearts would say, is because of left-wing “advocacy” groups. Seriously. There are a whole bunch of these liberal cottage industry immigration legal groups out there. And for decades they’ve been gumming up the system. Frivolous asylum claims. Vexatious appeals and writs. Contesting every deportation order, no matter how obvious the circumstances.
Well, sure enough, the system is broken. There are so many cases on appeal, so many cases with pending writs, so many contested proceedings, these immigration detention centers have turned into de facto Turkish prisons. Go figure. Of course there are other factors at play, most notably spending and law enforcement priorities, but the left-wing immigration legal cottage industry unquestionably is at the top of the list of those to blame.
A guy like that Orlando Williams fellow would not have spent three years in “cruel” detention had he summarily been deported the very day it was discovered that he was an illegal immigrant who violated probation in connection with multiple felony convictions. But as soon as a space cadet liberal would read the prior sentence it’s all but guaranteed that they’d begin twitching, foaming at the mouth, then they’d unplug their brain, and wish reflexively to begin contesting the notion. C’est la vie. Which is the whole point. It can’t be both ways. If we’re going to get all verklempt about all the time, effort and money being spent on immigration-related detentions, and of course how “cruel” they are, then in the next breath we can’t also get all verklempt about simply punting these people out the country, right quick.
That all said, regarding Obama’s strong arm play, from the standpoint of pure Machiavellian politics I must say that I admire the move. Obama wants to browbeat the GOP into not moving forward with the sequester. The GOP is resisting that idea, which creates another layer of irony since the sequester largely in the first instance was Team Obama’s brainchild. So Obama, like any Chicago politico, takes the gloves off and empties the immigration detention centers. That’s hard core politics. That takes giant cojones. Well done.
At unnecessary expense, apparently. Though frankly I’m ok with paying more to actually detain someone convicted of violence (assault/battery/child abuse) rather than just hooking them up to LoJack and releasing them.
Given the cost-savings alone (let alone the “less cruel” bit), the LoJack route should be standard operating proceedure for non-violent offenders awaiting a hearing.
We could take some of the cost savings and use it to hire some extra judges so that it doesn’t take 3 years to get to a hearing.
@Rob in CT:
Good luck getting those judicial confirmations through the Senate…
Frankly, I don’t think the administration really cares about the detained individuals, the real crux of the matter is that the detention centers are operated by private security firms. Their lobbyists will be on the Republicans faster than Arpaio on a lowrider traffic stop. This is a political threat of things to come, pure and simple.
So, how are these illegal aliens going to support themselves while they’re on “supervised” release? They can’t legally work, by definition. So they have no jobs to tie themselves to their community. Their relatives are likely also illegal aliens, so there goes that tie, too.
Aren’t we basically demanding they break the law even more?
It’d be nice if the headline of the post reflected the totally sensible conclusion, rather than right-wing fear mongering.
Ah yes, it’s the _news account_ that’s loopy. Further proof that Einstein was totally right about frames of reference – when your brain is constantly doing barrel rolls, anything ordinary looks “loopy”.
Really? And how does this massive “cottage industry” get paid? How do all those countless liberal lawyers make money “gumming up the system” for millions of undocumented people whose life dream is making minimum wage in the US? How does that work inside your head?
Let’s pay attention, James. He had his hearing. He was ordered to be deported. He’s been fighting the order. It’s not unconscionable. It’s his choice.
I’m really happy that you find solace in the fact that a convicted wife beater and child abuser, who has already been ordered to be deported, has been released with an ankle monitor. I’m sure that will work out well.
@Septimius: Look, dude, he’s just beating the wives and children that Americans can’t be bothered to beat. It’s no big deal.
Doh. I really need to start proofreading my comments before I post them. Legal brain drain alert.
SImple assault and battery are misdemeanors, not felonies, and that child abuse conviction must have been of the misdemeanor variety; otherwise he probably would not have received merely probation.
Speaking of which, since I have more time to kill, how FUBAR is our immigration system when a illegal immigrant doesn’t immediately get deported after being convicted of multiple crimes? We need to wait until a local law enforcement officer arrests him on a probation violation for said convictions before we commence the federal deportation process? Really? Geez.
One other point regarding Obama’s Chicago-style power move. Can you fathom the reaction among the liberal and loopy (BIRM) chattering classes if the shoe were on the other foot? Imagine for just one moment if W. Bush during the immediate aftermath of Katrina had punted aside Blanco and Nagin and stopped all the looting, etc. with temporary martial law in New Orleans. Or something along those lines. The left still would be frothing at their collective mouths. Well, more so, that is.
Isn’t three years in prison a rather excessive sentence for simple assault?
My objection is that the man had already violated his probation-if he is going to violate his probation, pretty hard to believe he is going to follow the rules of his release from detention.
Also, he had his deportation hearing-he lost, and kept fighting. He chose to spend 3 years in detention.
This is gonna be bad for GeoGroup’s quarterly profits……way to go GOP!
@Stormy Dragon: At any time during his detention, he had a very simple solution available to him — he could have stopped appealing and accepted his deportation back to his home country. He chose an American detention center over freedom at home.
I think the key word is in the first sentence, emphasis mine:
Hundreds? Out of 314 million people? Out of approx. 10 million illegal aliens.
Precisely zero time should be wasted on this.
(Even less, on poster boy Williams.)
This is just more of Obama’s “never let a crisis go to waste” policy.
By using the sequester “crisis” as cover he has just released lots of new Dem voters—it’s another win for The Won!
You idiot. If we take “hundreds” to mean just as much as it can, 900, then that means “the won” has changed the “wild” illegal population in America by less than one ten thousandth.
Slightly off topic, but I found this phrasing both amusing and poignant.
****, lets save some real money and just let every one go…we got all this now, who needs prison at all anymore…we now live in one, or a Nazi utopia, I can’t tell anyore…450 Million rounds of hollow-point bullets and another 175 million .223 caliber rifle ammo massive ammunition,UPDATE: Now up to 2 BILLION rounds… DHS Buys 7000 assault rifles….DHS Buys 2500 armored fighting vehicles…DHS Buys millions of dollars worth of target practice posters with pictures of armed civilians (including: pregnant women, elderly, children etc.)
lol, H/T some right wing cook on FaceBook…
Well, given release pending hearing is a common occurrence for those facing deportation hearings, these released are those considered to the most risk to the public. Perhaps many like the example above are only a threat to their wife and child. But how many that pose a risk to the American public at large were released? Well, we can hope if they go out raping that they rape a Democrat. Same for the odd drunk driving murder.
Really, the timing is the interesting part. Obviously planned to feed the Obama “end is nigh!” theme in the sequester negotiations. Just like interacting with TSA this weekend is going to be a real pain then it’ll go back to normal, sufferable, in a week or so assuming the line is held on the 2% reduction in growth of agency budgets.
I know there is no benefit in pointing out to you that by virtue of their not being citizens, they can’t vote.... because…
That Headline … LOL!
Doesn’t this (the last paragraph) kind of set the record straight?
@Jay Tea’s ignorant puppet Jenos Idanian #13:
They can’t legally work, by definition.
It’s not a crime to work as an illegal alien.
Are you this repulsive in real life or just online?
Reduction in growth… riiiiiiiiiight.
Because obviously there is no such thing as inflation. And certainly not a 2.5 percent inflation rate. And surely there can’t be more illegal immigrants in custody in 2013 than 2012.
All the sequester has done is reveal that even though deficits are supposed to be the adult conversation… the people obsessing about it have about as much knowledge of budgets and finance as the political know-nothings.
I don’t know … the next step is for police (who have all the guns) to break down our doors and make sure we only have 6 ounce organic fruit sodas in the fridge.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
i just hope there’s no illegal version of “willie horton” in that group.
You mean someone already convicted of murder, and then foolishly given a day pass?
Probably not, no.
I don’t believe this group contains any convicted felons at all.
(But feel free to root for a murder, if that gets you off.)
What’s the rub? We’re supposed to be broke right? Or is it we’re only broke when it comes to spending you don’t agree with? Got it.
Wait? Child abuse isn’t a felony?
They were holding these aliens in custody for a reason. Now they’ve released them. Is the reason they held them before no longer valid? In any case, there is some risk such a population will contain someone who commits murder in the future. There is a higher risk the population contains some who will drive drunk and kill someone.
We should keep an eye on those released. See if Obama has them picked back up after the sequester “crisis”.
@JKB: So in your mind, anyone in government custody is guilty?
This would be the same government that is so prone to abuse and dictatorship that we all must arm ourselves with automatic weapons for the day they come to enslave us?
So the government is made of tyrants who want to enslave us all, but anyone they’ve actually locked up must be guilty of a crime.
Good reasoning there, JKB. Maybe you should go back to wishing rape and murder on those who don’t share your poltical beliefs.
The felony thing aside, the reason that these individual were being held is that they were awaiting deportation hearings. And generally speak ICE facilities have long been filled with people who were picked up on minor infractions and are going through the deportation system.
Once that procedure starts, regardless of your background, you are not going back on the streets.
Typically a prisoner has to serve out their sentence before being deported.
So, while there are most likely some “bad” folks in there, these individuals were being held not as part of their sentence or because of any inherent danger they posed to the community. They were being held because the process had been initiated.
And anyone whose ever dealt with the government on this issue will tell you that everything takes forever and there is a HUGE backlog of cases waiting to be heard.
This get’s to James’ point — not so much that Mr. Williams shouldn’t be going through the system, but whether or not its a useful and humane use of resources to federally house him while he goes through the process. And even if you don’t want to look beyond his history, the fact is that in the cells next to him are a LOT of people who are also waiting without ever having commit any significant crime.
@john personna: time will tell, but we probably won’t read about it in here.
You’re right, it did say “convicted” for Williams. In that case he should have been deported pretty quickly, IMO. I mean based on the stated facts, he had conviction for multiple crime, violation of his visa.
Only if those convictions were suspect should a new visa have been granted.
James may have to change the title of this post…
White House was not involved in ICE’s decision to release detainees
Time for more “the truth about the sequester” posts?
@john personna: Seconding; this is an odd example. I wonder why he was able to delay deportation after a conviction.
Maybe one of those cases where his former country doesn’t accept him?
Wow are those some deranged commenters. Obviously, this is Napolitano being thrown under the bus. Because its completely impossible that this was an internal decision within ICE, apparently. Friggin morons.
@john personna: I think I figured out why Williams is still in the country. From the Familes for Freedom website:
I don’t know if that’s exactly true, but that is the issue his advocates are raising. It sounds a bit like those anti-Chinese terrorists that we couldn’t deport to China without participating in a human rights violation.
Or JP already guessed it.
Why not send him back to his home country, WHILE the legal process is continuing?
He could be re-instated and re-enter the country if his appeal is upheld.
To hold him for 3 years at the cost of tens of thousands of $$$$ is crazy, even if he voluntarily incarcerated himself.
Our immigration laws are friggin dysfunctional, and this article, unintentionally manifests this folly in all its stilted glory.
Since taking office President Obama has had 172 of his 219 judicial appointments confirmed. That corresponds pretty favorably with the number of confirmations of appointments by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.
Said another way, the idea that everything is getting stalled in the Senate is simply false.
That corresponds pretty favorably with the number of confirmations of appointments by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.
Define “favorably,” because these are the numbers from your link:
Bill Clinton – 82%
George W. Bush – 90%
Barack Obama – 79%
What that shows me is that Republicans are preventing 11% more nominees from confirmation than Democrats did for Bush’s nominees, and they prevented 8% more for Clinton. Only 7 of Bush’s district court nominees were not confirmed. 47 of Obama’s district court nominees remain unconfirmed.
These numbers do not, contrary to your claim, reflect favorably on the actions of Senate Republicans.
@Mikey: James may have to change the title of this post…
Might I suggest “Obama Has No Effing Clue What His Agencies Are Doing” as an alternative?
@the Q: Um, if he has no legal country that he’s from, that might be a little difficult….
I guess, to be consistant, we could send him to one of those islands that China and Korea and Vietnam and Japan are all arguing over as to Who Exactly Owns It.
@Jay Tea’s non-ponytailed puppet Jenos Idanian:
Might I suggest “Obama Has No Effing Clue What His Agencies Are Doing” as an alternative?
How about “Wingnuts Too Dumb To Understand President Doesn’t Personally Manage Every Aspect of Government?”
Oh wait, that’s not news.
@PD Shaw: The story says he was from Jamaica. Last time I looked, Jamaica is a country.
P.D and JP’s point is that Jamaica may not:
a. Want him back (effectively giving him no country)
b. He may be arguing that if he returns to Jamaica he would face certain types of race/religious/political violence
Both are valid reasons to “not have a country.”
Both of the reasons I listed above are reasons not to send him back. An additional, though far more complex one, is in the case of people fighting extradition over having a legal visa revoked (for a variety of reasons).
One example would be someone who lost their visa due to a conviction and is fighting the legality of that conviction on habeas or other grounds.
What *do* we do with people we wish to deport whose home countries refuse to take them? Do we simply detain them indefintely?
This Williams guy is apparently a violent criminal. I don’t want him. I get that Jamaica might not want him either. Solution?
@Rob in CT:
Quick answer — yes.
I figured it might be.
@Barry: A conviction for a deportable offense only makes him “deportable” (now known as “removable,”) not deported. There is this annoying concept called “due process” where the government has to prove he should be deported. It is the same package of rights that let’s people have free exercise of religion, not have to house soldiers, have well-regulated militias, and so on. Package deal, they all came together. It took a couple hundred years to get some kinks ironed out (like, say, slavery, or child labor), but it means that if your neighbor lies and claims you broke the law, the government would have to take his complaint and prove it, and you can defend against it. You would get an attorney to represent you and help defend you, if the charges were serious enough and you couldn’t afford it.
There is a low-calorie version of all those rights that still applies to immigrants, because they are people. That’s the “due process” part. You get some process, but only what’s “due.” For example, no attorney for you, immigrant, even if you are facing lifetime separation from your family and children, or fear reprisals from your home government or someone your government cannot control (like gangs.)
Despite all those pesky “rights,” we still managed to deport/remove the equivalent of every human being in the city of Omaha, NE or Oakland, CA for the past several years in a row. Those “rights” don’t seem to get much in the way.
So, if you like the idea that jack-booted government thugs can’t cart you off and lock you up (or spirit you out of the Land of the Free) without a trial, let this poor guy fight his case.
My question is, why did someone at a for-profit prison helped by quota-based government thugs think it was OK to bleed us for $125 a day when he was clearly not much of a current threat? Why was this guy locked up at all? Why are we spending so much to lock up dishwashers, when we cannot afford to provide other services, and there are cheaper, and better, alternatives?
It’s something to think about.