During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration policy on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz questioned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Sarah Saldana about the number of "criminal illegal aliens" released by the federal government. Saldana tried to justify the release of thousands of convicted criminal illegal aliens when Cruz confronted her with the statistics.
"193 murderers with homicide convictions. 426 people with sexual assault convictions. 16,000 criminal illegal aliens with drunk driving convictions," released in 2014 instead of being deported or undergoing criminal proceedings.
Director Saldana claims she read the figures for the wrong year, but Cruz shuts her down: "I want to know that your testimony here, on how many criminals ICE released in 2013, you were off by a factor of three. You said 30,000. The correct answer is 104,000. There were 68,000 criminal illegal aliens that ICE declined to begin deportation proceedings against...
You are omitting the 68,000 criminal illegal aliens that ICE did not begin deportation proceedings against at all. You've got to add both of those together, it is over 100,000."
CRUZ: In the year 2013, how many criminal illegal aliens did the Obama administration release?
SALDANA: In 2014 it was a little over 30,000.
CRUZ: How many murderers?
SALDANA: Sir, I can't remember the number right now, but I know we had the statistic that was said earlier... but I can't provide you the exact number..."
CRUZ: How many rapists?
SALDANA: Umm. I am not sure right now.
CRUZ: How many drunk drivers?
Yesterday, how many murderers with the Obama administration release?
SALDANA: I can't answer that question. I want the American people to know and understand our job and our mission. We don't release people willy nilly. We release people pursuant to these statutes and regulations. There are a limited number of crimes that were are required to detain people, it is mandatory, many of them laid out with drug distribution and conspiracies. With the rest of the people, you know, we are require to release some percentage of the total.
Also the immigration courts have a half a million case backlog. They have proceedings they go through. They will order release, because many of these people challenge their bond or their detention. But in the rest, I think it is like 49% this last year. In the rest where ICE has discretion, where this statute has given us discretion, we have very well trained very well experienced law enforcement officers who look at the entire case just like a magistrate judge or a federal judge does.
SEN. TED CRUZ: I want to know that your testimony here, on how many criminals ICE released in 2013, you were off by a factor of three. You said 30,000. The correct answer is 104,000. There were 68,000 criminal illegal aliens that ICE declined to begin deportation proceedings against. Despite the fact, that as Sen. Sessions observed the federal law that you are holding up there says they "shall" be deported.
The Obama admin refused to deport them. That is 68,000. In addition to that there are 30,000 in deportation proceedings with criminal proceedings that the Obama administration released. I would note that among those were 193 murderers with homicide convictions. 426 people with sexual assault convictions. 16,000 criminal illegal aliens with drunk driving convictions released by this administration because they refuse to follow the law.
SALDANA: Sir, those numbers, I am looking straight at them. You asked me I thought about 2014. That is 30,558. And the good news is, at least it went down from 2013, when it was 36,007.
CRUZ: But you are omitting the 68,000 criminal illegal aliens that ICE did not begin deportation proceedings against at all. You've got to add both of those together, it is over 100,000.
SALDANA: Yes, sir, that is absolutely right, all pursuant to the statute that the Congress has outlined...
CRUZ: There are too many politicians in Washington that talk a good game but don’t act. If you want to honor Josh [Wilkerson], if you want to honor Kate Steinle, start enforcing the law and stop releasing murderers, and rapists, and drunk drivers...
I don’t want to hear from the Obama administration they’re sorry while they continue to do the exact same thing because what we know – more people will be murdered, more people will be raped, more people will be killed by drunk drivers because this Administration refuses to enforce the law. That is wrong. No man is above the law, and that includes President Obama...
It is within your power to follow federal law. And this administration refuses to do so, and that is altogether unacceptable.