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Report: One-Third of ICE Detainees Released in Miami Because of Sequester Cuts Have Criminal Backgrounds


225 were released in Miami in the last month.

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 11: An immigrant inmate walks for excercise at the Maricopa County Tent City jail on March 11, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. Striped uniforms and pink undergarments are standard issue at the facility. The tent jail, run by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, houses undocumented immigrants who are serving up to one year after being convicted of crime in the county. Although many of immigrants have lived in the U.S for years, often with families, most will be deported to Mexico after serving their sentences. Credit: Getty Images

report published Sunday in the Miami Herald reveals that 225 foreign nationals detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been released due to sequester cuts. A federal official claims that 76 of those 225 detainees had criminal convictions, including 10 "Level 1" offenders, four of which were subsequently re-arrested. Other offenders included those convicted of theft and financial crimes. 

This revelation follows TheBlaze's earlier report on Texas Rep. Trey Gowdy, who blasted ICE Director John Morton and DHS officials for releasing convicted fellons. The Herald reports:

Originally, ICE officials said only a few hundred detained immigrants had been released nationwide. But on March 14, in testimony before a congressional committee in Washington, ICE chief John Morton revealed that the total was higher than had previously been acknowledged.

Morton said the freed detainees included not only undocumented immigrants with no criminal records, but also people convicted of theft, financial crimes and drunk driving.

“In some cases, multiple DUIs,” Morton told a House appropriations subcommittee.

Morton added that at least 10 of the foreign nationals released were deemed to be “Level 1” offenders, the most risky designation. Four were later rearrested, he said.

Of the 225 freed immigrants detained by ICE, one of those re-arrested is José López, an inmate who was awaiting possible deportation to Nicaragua. He was suddenly released by U.S. officials on February 26 and was "overjoyed" to rejoin his family in Miami after months of incarceration.

“He was thrilled and his family was thrilled when he showed up at home free after he was released under supervision from Krome,” said Lopez's attorney Kenneth Panzer. “Now the family is outraged that after the joy of his release came the pain and misery of his rearrest. They are devastated. It’s as if ICE took an axe and cut the family in half and left them to bleed.”

Morton said that although some Level 1 detainees were among those released, none were considered very serious offender. Lopez was convicted of burglary while in high school and was later convicted of possession of marijuana, according to the Herald.

According to the Herald, ICE released 149 foreign nationals with no criminal records, who had been detained because they lacked immigration documents.

“There are no mass releases of dangerous criminals under way or any plan for the future, just efforts to live within our budget” Morton told the subcommittee.

The foreign nationals released fall within CE's Miami deportation unit (which includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). While the numbers of those released in Florida may seem high, Morton reminded that 771 foreign nationals -- the most to date -- were released in Texas.

In late February, the immigrant advocacy group Americans for Immigrant Justice said several of its clients were released from the Broward Transitional Center.

“I was thrilled to learn that several women I represent were released,” said group attorney Jessica Shulruff in a statement. “One of my clients was the victim of domestic violence, and I have been trying to get her released from detention for more than nine months. Why it took the threat of sequestration for ICE to do the right — and cost-effective — thing is beyond me.”

Read the full Miami Herald report here.

(H/T: Weasel Zippers)

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