Sheriffs rail against ICE after feds release 3 immigrants in Arizona

Aug 18, 2015, 2:52 PM | Updated: 2:53 pm
(Immigration and Customs Enforcement Photo)...
(Immigration and Customs Enforcement Photo)
(Immigration and Customs Enforcement Photo)

PHOENIX — State sheriffs were irate after learning Immigrant and Customs Enforcement released three illegal immigrants with violent crimes on their record in Arizona.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu held a press conference Tuesday to denounce the release, while the Arizona Sheriffs Association — which Babeu is a member of — also criticized ICE.

The sheriffs were informed of the inmates’ release by ICE’s new Law Enforcement Notification System, a program that informs authorities when an illegal immigrant with a criminal history is released in Arizona. It was the first such notification issued.

ICE said all three inmates were released based on United States immigration policies. The agency could not prove the citizenship of two of the men and the other is a legal permanent resident.

“These bureaucratic excuses that these dangerous foreign criminals may not be returned to their country of origin since they lack travel documents are not acceptable. We demand that these criminals be deported from the U.S. and back to their home country,” the sheriff’s association said in a release.

Earlier this year, a House panel found ICE released more than 30,000 immigrants with criminal records in 2014. The agency released an additional 36,000 in 2013.

At time time, ICE Director Sarah Saldaña said the release of immigrants was to blame on the courts, not her agency.

And she said her agency has increased the number of removed immigrants with criminal convictions: 85 percent of those who were deported from the interior of the U.S. in 2014 were convicted criminals, she said, up from 67 percent in fiscal 2011 and 38 percent in fiscal 2008.

She said ICE removed 315,943 people in 2014.

Cronkite News’ Liliana Salgado contributed to this report.

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Sheriffs rail against ICE after feds release 3 immigrants in Arizona