Over the past several years those opposed to normalizing the statuses of millions of illegal immigrants in the United States have loudly voiced their contention that the borders should first be secured before any further immigration reform steps are taken. Proponents of normalization have insisted that such measures are unnecessary.
Despite the disagreement, most people on either side of the debate have agreed that immigrants in the country, who commit crimes, should not be permitted to continue to reside in the United States. But, in contrast to this widely agreed upon precept, last year Homeland Security released thousands of immigrants who had been convicted of crimes from U.S. custody and back into the country.
In a recent congressional hearing Homeland Security Secretary Johnson was grilled by Congress as to why the department released 36,000 immigrants who had been convicted of crimes back into the United States last year. Reportedly, among those convicted were nearly 200 people convicted of homicide and over 400 people convicted of sexual assaults. The releases apparently came after reviews by federal judges, but Secretary Johnson nevertheless promised to investigate the situation further.
In adding additional pressure to the situation, the House voted, by a tally of 218-193, to require the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Homeland Security’s decision to release these criminals. Secretary Johnson expressed his own concern that immigrants with histories of violent crime had been released back into the United States, saying “I want a deeper understanding of this issue myself.”
The revelation of the releases comes at a particularly sensitive time for those who would like to see the country finally pass a comprehensive immigration solution.
During the hearing, Secretary Johnson was taken to task for the releases. The hearing quickly devolved into partisanship bickering, showing just how deeply the divide runs between the various perspectives on immigration reform.