Salmon: Department of Homeland Security Must Answer for Actions on Release of Detained, Undocumented Immigrants

Mar 11, 2013
Press Release
37 Members of Congress send letter to seek explanation

WASHINGTON—Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) released the following statement regarding the Department of Homeland Security release of detained, undocumented immigrants due to anticipated sequestration.

It is important we find answers as to why the Department of Homeland Security took these steps, even before sequestration officially started.  This letter calls into question these dangerous tactics and demands an explanation.  While cost savings are necessary, it is imperative that the Secretary use her authority to ensure the cuts are thoughtful and do not endanger the public.”

Salmon was joined by the following Members of Congress in sending this letter: Duncan Hunter (CA-50), Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), John Campbell (CA-45), Paul Gosar (AZ-4), Michael Grimm (NY-11), Ted Poe (TX-2), Steve Stockman (TX-36), Walter Jones (NC-3), Graves (MO-6), David Schweikert (AZ-6), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Mike Pompeo (KS-4), John Kline (MN-2), Randy Forbes (VA-4), Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3), Bill Posey (FL-8), Steve Daines (MT- At-Large), Michael Burgess (TX-26), Tom McClintock (CA-4), Ed Royce (CA-39), John Culberson (TX-7), Alan Nunnelee (MS-1), Vicky Hartzler (MO-4), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), John Mica (FL-7), Rob Bishop (UT-1), Tim Huelskamp (KS-1), Bill Young (FL-13), Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Trent Franks (AZ-8), Jim Bridenstine (OK-1), Michele Bachmann (MN-6), Phil Roe (TN-1), Michael Conaway (TX-11), John Duncan (TN-2), Doug Lamborn (CO-5).

Text of the Letter is below:

March 8, 2013

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

We are deeply concerned that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is using sequestration as a vehicle to further the Administration’s disregard for enforcing our immigration laws.  Specifically, we are troubled by recent reports that DHS has released hundreds of illegal immigrants, rather than finding cost savings elsewhere in the agency.

Your agency’s decision to release “low-risk” illegal immigrants back into the public under the guise of saving money is extraordinary, unprecedented and dangerous.  We understand that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), like all federal agencies, must find cost savings in order to comply with their new budget allocation.  However, it is frankly irresponsible that your agency chose releasing detained immigrants as its first effort to control spending.  

The inability of DHS to prioritize resources for potential cuts suggests this decision was either politically motivated to further the Administration’s amnesty goals or, at best, demonstrates agency incompetence.

Even more troubling are reports of dangerous criminals being released through this unilateral decision.  According to a February 26 New York Times article, one illegal immigrant released was also convicted of simple assault, simple battery and child abuse.  Allowing individuals like this, who should be deported, to roam the streets of our neighborhoods unnecessarily exposes law-abiding citizens to risk.

Given the public safety and national security concerns this decision raises, we respectfully request you halt any further action to release detained illegal immigrants.  Also, please respond to the following questions, regarding individuals already released, pending release, or anticipated to be released:

  • The number of detainees released and the geographic location of where the releases took place;
  • Any plans for future releases, and the geographic location of where those releases will take place;
  • The name of the DHS official who authorized the review of detained illegal immigrants for release;
  • The criteria used to determine who is eligible for release;
  • The number of reviewed detainees denied release and the specific reasons for such denials;
  • A list identifying cuts to the DHS budget implemented prior to the release of the detainees, the budget savings achieved, and why these savings were insufficient;
  • The budget savings achieved through the release of illegal immigrants, and a description of the analysis conducted to weigh cost savings vs. public safety concerns;
  • How DHS is tracking illegal immigrants released under this plan, and whether they will be ordered back to detention centers if funding becomes available.

Thank you in advance for your timely attention to this matter.  We eagerly look forward to your response.