Criminal immigrants avert deportation orders as Senate kills sanctuary city penalties

Criminal immigrants avert deportation orders as Senate kills sanctuary city penalties
Kate Steinle and the illegal alien who murdered her

Illegal immigrants in Texas were convicted of 155,000 criminal offenses — including homicide and sexual assault — during the past five years, state records show.

And roughly one in five criminal aliens remain on the streets after incarceration.

The state Department of Public Safety reported that from June 1, 2011, to June 30, 2016, 129,000 illegal immigrants in Texas were convicted of homicide, assault, robbery, sexual assault, burglary, drug trafficking, kidnapping, theft, obstructing police and/or various weapons offenses.

The Texas crime statistics reflect an even more troubling national trend of immigrants dodging deportation after committing felonies.

Data obtained by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, following a hearing on the collapse of federal immigration enforcement, reveal nearly 1 million illegal immigrants still living in the United States despite having been ordered removed.

“About 20 percent of the non-departed aliens have at least one criminal conviction,” said Jessica Vaughn, a researcher at the Center for Immigration Studies. “Nearly all of the convicted criminals are at large.”

Vaughn found three ways that criminal immigrants slip through the cracks:

  • A number of countries refuse to take back their citizens after deportation, or do their best to slow-walk the process.
  • Immigrants who are released pending deportation hearings simply fail to appear for their court dates and disappear into the wind.
  • Dozens of state and local governments have adopted sanctuary policies that obstruct U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from taking custody of deportable aliens.

Dallas, Houston, and Austin are among the self-designated “sanctuary cities” where local police are prohibited from enforcing immigration laws or cooperating with federal immigration officials.

In San Antonio, Bexar County sheriff’s candidate Javier Salazar said, “I don’t feel any [illegal immigrants] arrested should be processed for deportation.”

“I’m of the belief that immigration enforcement is not our main job,” Salazar said.

That’s a view others take issue with.

“What is the point of being a citizen or legal resident if people who entered the country illegally are protected by law enforcement officials?” asked George Rodriguez, a conservative activist in San Antonio.  “What part of the word ‘illegal’ don’t they understand?”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott supported SB 185, which would have banned sanctuary city policies in the Lone Star State. The measure, authored by Sen. Charles Perry, R, did not pass in the 2015 Legislature. A similar bill is expected to be reintroduced in the 2017 session.

“Gov. Abbott has made clear that sanctuary cities will not be tolerated in Texas, and he looks forward to working with the Legislature next session to pass legislation that outlaws these policies,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman told Watchdog.

Last year, Abbott called on Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to reverse her policy of refusing to automatically detain criminal immigrants under ICE’s federal detainer program, which is designed to prevent criminals from being released into communities. Valdez has not changed her policy.

One year after Kate Steinle was shot to death in San Francisco, allegedly by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal immigrant with seven felony convictions and five deportations to his record, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday killed S. 3100, which would have denied certain federal grants to sanctuary jurisdictions.

The House previously passed similar legislation.

The Senate also spiked Sen. Ted Cruz ’s Kate’s Law bill, S. 2193. The Texas Republican’s measure would have established a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States.

Both measures garnered 55-42 majorities but needed 60 votes to overcome a promised filibuster by Democrats.

Read more by Kenric Ward at Watchdog.com.

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a national correspondent and writes for the Texas Bureau of Watchdog.org. Formerly a reporter and editor at two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, Kenric has won dozens of state and national news awards for investigative articles. His most recent book is “Saints in Babylon: Mormons and Las Vegas.”


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