|A marker on the road signifies the border line between the United States and Mexico at the border crossing in San Ysidro, California in this September 27, 2011 file photograph. ( REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Illegal immigrants arrested in the U.S. should be deported, not released back into society to commit more crimes, Republican lawmakers say.
A congressional report released this week shows 46,700 illegal immigrants were arrested and subsequently released between December 2008 and July 2011, and 16% of them — 7,200 — reoffended during the same three-year period.
But according to the law, they should have been deported.
The charges against those rearrested include 2,000 DUIs (driving under the influence), 1,400 drug violations, and 1,000 major criminal offences including 19 murders, three attempted murders and 142 sex crimes.
Republicans blasted President Barack Obama's administration for being too lax with the country's 12 million illegal immigrants, and even blamed the president's policies for the crimes.
"President Obama's reckless amnesty agenda is dangerous and deadly for Americans. Rather than protect the American people he was elected to serve, President Obama has imposed a policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to be released into our communities. They have committed thousands of more crimes," said Lamar Smith, a Republican congressman from Texas who chairs the House judiciary committee. "The Obama administration could have prevented these senseless crimes by enforcing our immigration laws. But President Obama continues to further his anti-enforcement agenda while innocent Americans suffer the consequences."
According to the Republican-dominated committee, the White House has identified 19 categories of illegal immigrants not considered priorities for deportation, and has also directed authorities to use "prosecutorial discretion" when deporting illegal immigrants arrested for other crimes.
The report also shows between December 2008 and July 2011 some 112,300 legal immigrants who aren't U.S. citizens were also arrested and should have been deported for breaching the conditions of their residency.
Of those arrested and released, 19,400 were rearrested in the same three-year period. Their crimes included 41 murders, 18 attempted murders and 400 sex crimes.
The Obama administration has ramped up deportations of illegal immigrants. Some 400,000 illegal immigrants are sent packing annually.
The new report was prepared with analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service using data from the Department of Homeland Security. Republican lawmakers began subpoenaing the records in November 2011.