WASHINGTON – House Republicans today grilled Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson for answers about why President Obama signed off last year on “the worst prison break in U.S. history,” which released 36,000 criminal immigrants into U.S. neighborhoods, including many violent offenders
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, asked Johnson today in a House Judiciary hearing if “someone” – namely Obama – should be charged with crimes against humanity for intentionally releasing violent offenders to roam free and unfettered.
“By the administration’s own admission, 90 percent of those who were voluntarily released had committed thousands of crimes, such as murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, drug trafficking and hit-and-run. Should someone be charged with crimes against humanity?” Smith asked Johnson.
Smith then gave a rundown of the “ways the president has ignored or undermined current immigration laws.”
The Secure Fence Act of 2006, the congressman noted, requires the Department of Homeland Security to prevent all unlawful entries into the U.S., yet the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, reported in 2011 that only 6.5 percent of the Southwest border is under full control.”
“The DHS’ widespread abuse of prosecutorial discretion ignores the statutory requirement to apprehend and remove illegal immigrants,’ he said.
Also, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, weakened the rules that required illegal immigrants to be detained. The administration, he said, has undercut the ability of local law enforcement officials to apprehend illegal immigrants.
Currently, DHS is reviewing deportation policies, and no doubt will weaken them even more, Smith said.
“If the president cannot be trusted to enforce current immigration laws, how can he be trusted to enforce future immigration laws?” Smith asked.
Smith probed Johnson further for details of offenders who have committed murder after being released as a result of Obama’s executive orders.
“Mr. Secretary, a couple of questions. First of all, in regard to the homicides that have been committed by those who are voluntarily released, will you be able to provide this committee with the details of those homicides – who was involved, the nature of the crime, the date and so forth?”
Johnson said that he didn’t have the information in hand but would share it once he gets it.
Smith pressed Johnson further on the nature of prosecutorial discretions in an effort to get the DHS chief to admit the Obama administration is indeed granting amnesty to thousands of violent offenders.
“Do you agree that the administration’s policies have resulted in amnesty to hundreds of thousands people, and do you agree that the Senate bill would have provided amnesty to millions of people under the definitions [from Black’s Law] that I just read you?” Smith asked.
Johnson dodged the question: “Through prosecutorial discretion, we prioritize our use of resources.”
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., attempted to drill down deeper into the issue of illegal immigration and amnesty but still could not get clear answers from Johnson.
“We’ve had testimony before this committee that violent criminal gangs are a major problem in the United States. And some of those gangs, such as MS-13, one of the most violent, we’ve had testimony – that as many as two-thirds of their members were here illegally,” Forbes said.
“Last year, when ICE began releasing convicted criminals, I asked then-Director Morton how many of those released were members of violent criminal gangs. And I think the committee was shocked that he didn’t have a clue. Based on your letter that you submitted, I think, yesterday to the committee, we now know that 36,000 – in excess of 36,000 criminals have been released,” he said.
“And the question I would have for you today is, of the 36,000 released, do you have any clue how many were members of violent criminal gangs?” Forbes asked.
“I would suggest you have no record of that. And if you do, if you would correct me on that. The second – third question – is, isn’t it true that individuals can receive asylum or withholding of removal if they simply claim that they’ve renounced their membership in a gang?” Forbes asked.
Johnson responded: “I’m not sure about the specific answer to that question.”
House Republicans also probed Johnson for answers as to why DHS has purchased 84 million rounds of ammunition totaling $19 million and what it will be used for. As with the other questions the committee asked, Johnson said he need time to find the answer.