The Obama administration declined to try to deport more than 36,000 illegal immigrants that were arrested on other charges between 2008 and 2011, including some who went on to commit 19 murders, 3 attempted murders and 142 sex crimes, the House Judiciary Committee said Tuesday.
All told, the administration was alerted to nearly 160,000 immigrants — most of them here legally — who were arrested during the three-year period. They went on to be charged in nearly 60,000 more crimes, according to the committee and the Congressional Research Service, which issued a report on the matter.
The findings stem from the Obama administration’s Secure Communities program, which was designed to identify immigrants who run afoul of the law and who the administration decides it wants to deport.
While hundreds of thousands have been sent back home under the program, 159,286 were not put in deportation proceedings during the period under review, CRS said.
About three quarters of those weren’t eligible for deportation because they were legal immigrants and their criminal records didn’t rise to the level of deportation, though nearly a quarter could have been deported, CRS said.
Those who could have been deported but were released later went on to commit the 19 murders, 3 attempted murders and 142 sex crimes, the Judiciary Committee said.
“The Obama administration could have prevented these senseless crimes by enforcing our immigration laws,” committee Chairman Lamar Smith said. “But President Obama continues to further his anti-enforcement agenda while innocent Americans suffer the consequences. His unwillingness to enforce immigration laws puts our communities at risk and costs American lives.”
Mr. Smith requested the CRS report, which used data he had subpoenaed from the Homeland Security Department.
The department didn’t immediately return a request for comment Tuesday morning.
Secure Communities has come under fire from both sides of the aisle.
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