The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is demanding that the Department of Homeland Security answer questions raised by a new lawsuit, which claims DHS has pushed officials to avoid the deportation of criminal aliens who were convicted of low-level crimes.
That possibility was raised in a November lawsuit from Patricia Vroom, who has worked at DHS for 26 years. Vroom's lawsuit said senior officials tried to push out employees who didn't follow orders, raising questions about the unfair treatment of these employees, but also about whether DHS has decided to willfully ignore the law.
House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) says a lawsuit from a Department of Homeland Security official is raising questions about whether DHS is trying to avoid the deportation of criminal aliens.
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"Management's conduct as described in the complaint was reprehensible," Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) wrote in a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. The letter also went to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) has been implicated in the lawsuit.
"The extremely disturbing allegations raise serious questions about the fitness of OPLA management, and about the apparent lack of oversight of OPMA management by your office," Goodlatte wrote.
According to Goodlatte's letter, Vroom's lawsuit at one point alleged that DHS told employees to "ignore the law they were sworn to uphold and routinely release and dismiss cases for entire classes of criminal aliens." That includes drunk drivers, deferred action applicants, and illegal immigrants who tried to vote.
It said that Jim Stolley, a manager of Field Legal Operations within OPLA, said "We don't give a s*%! about that, let it go," when asked about removing aliens with drunk driving convictions.
"This statement, if true, is an insult to all of those killed and maimed by drunk drivers," Goodlatte wrote.
Goodlatte also said he's "concerned" that some of the officials implicated are now charged with implementing Obama's executive action on immigration, which could give legal status to 4 million illegal immigrants and allow them to work.
The letter acknowledged that the lawsuit is still ongoing, but said the questions being raised demand that DHS provide answers to Congress. Specifically, he asked DHS and ICE whether any disciplinary actions were taken against any officials, how many Equal Employment Opportunity complains have been filed, and what DHS is doing to protect "whistleblowers such as Ms. Vroom."
Goodlatte also said studies show that DHS is losing almost half of the immigration cases it brings, the lowest rate in 20 years. "Have management directives — either verbal or written — played a role in the downturn of the rate at which ICE attorney's prevail in their cases?" he asked.
Elsewhere, Goodlatte said his committee has heard reports that certain cases involving fraud and identify theft are not prioritized for removal, and asked for an explanation. The letter asked DHS to reply by December 22.
Read Goodlatte's letter here: