Some 30 countries are playing “hot potato” with the U.S. over the disposition of illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes here and have been deported. But their countries of origin are refusing to accept their return, according to Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar .
While these countries are refusing to accept the deportations of these criminals, the U.S. government is still issuing visas and student visas to citizens of those countries, according to the Texan congressman. There is already a law on the books that allows the U.S. to hold visas from a country that is not taking back its criminals, but according to Cuellar, the U.S. is not enforcing it.
“We’re not enforcing it, which is amazing. So now my intent is to go back to our committee on appropriations and affect their funding until they do that,” Cuellar told Sharyl Attkisson, host of “Full Measure,” in an interview.
Cuellar, a Democratic member of the House Committee on Appropriations, told Attkisson that the Supreme Court has ruled that illegal immigrants arrested for criminal activity can only be held for a certain period of time before they must be released. He added:
That means you’re releasing criminals into our streets because those countries refuse to take back those criminal aliens. That’s wrong. And especially I think it’s even worse that this is already on the books, and we’re still issuing business tourist visas and student visas to countries that refuse to take back their criminal aliens. That’s wrong, and we’re hoping to change that.
Cuellar has not been afraid to break with some of his party leadership on immigration issues in the past. He was known as one of former President Barack Obama’s fiercest critics on illegal immigration. Cuellar teamed up with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn in 2014 to help pass a bill that would speed up the deportation of unaccompanied minors. His stance disappointed his fellow Democrats, including Sen. Harry Reid.
There are many foreign countries that refuse to retake illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, according to the congressman, including Vietnam, Cuba, and China. Cuellar said that diplomacy plays a factor in the government’s refusal to enforce the law, as the Department of State and other federal agencies do not want to upset foreign partners.
But, for Cuellar, diplomacy is no excuse to put American lives in danger:
But my response is, but we can upset our constituents, we can upset our way of life that we have here by allowing those criminals to be released? And basically the response from the State Department is because you have to work with the State Department and Homeland Security. And the State Department, with all due respect, was focused on diplomacy.
Cuellar noted that he understands the importance of diplomacy in these situations, but that it also important to prevent convicted criminals from returning to American neighborhoods. He told Attkisson that he plans to push for the U.S. government to withhold visas from countries that refuse to take back their convicted criminals.
You can watch Cuellar’s entire interview with Attkisson at Full Measure’s website.
This report, by Russ Read, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.