|For Immediate Release
July 14, 2011
Contact: Jessica Baker, 202-225-3951
Committee Approves Keep Our Communities Safe Act
Washington, DC – The House Judiciary Committee today approved the Keep Our Communities Safe Act (H.R. 1932), a bill to stop the release of dangerous criminal immigrants into American communities. The bill was reported favorably to the House floor by a vote of 17-14.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the bill’s primary sponsor, today praised the Committee vote.
Chairman Smith: “Recent Supreme Court decisions have inadvertently created a safe haven for criminals. Just because a criminal immigrant cannot be returned to their home country does not mean they should be freed into our communities. Dangerous criminal immigrants need to be detained.
“The Keep Our Communities Safe Act is desperately needed. We cannot continue to let dangerous criminal immigrants slip through the cracks of our legal justice system. While we are too late to prevent some tragedies, let us act today to prevent many more. We have a responsibility to make sure the laws of this land protect Americans rather than endanger them.”
Background: In the 2001 decision of Zadvydas v. Davis, the Supreme Court ruled that under current law, immigrants who had been admitted to the U.S. and then ordered removed could not be detained for more than six months. In the 2005 case of Clark v. Martinez, the Supreme Court expanded its decision in Zadvydas to apply to illegal immigrants. The problem with both of these rulings is that not every criminal immigrant who is ordered removed can be because of the unwillingness of some countries to issue travel documents necessary for repatriation.
As a result, the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have had no choice but to release thousands of criminal immigrants into our neighborhoods. In the last two years, close to 8,000 immigrants with orders of removal were released because their own countries refused to take them back. Justice Department officials have stated that these criminal immigrants include rapists, child molesters, murderers, and other dangerous criminals.
Summary of H.R. 1932: This bill provides a statutory basis for DHS to detain as long as necessary specified dangerous criminal immigrants under orders of removal who cannot be removed. It authorizes DHS to detain non-removable immigrants beyond six months, but only if:
the alien will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future;
the alien would have been removed but for the alien’s refusal to make all reasonable efforts to comply and cooperate with the Homeland Security Secretary’s efforts to remove him;
the alien has a highly contagious disease;
release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences;
release would threaten national security; or
release would threaten the safety of the community and the alien either is an aggravated felon or has committed a crime of violence.
Such aliens may be detained for periods of six months at a time, and the period of detention may be renewed. The bill also provides for judicial review of detention decisions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.