WASHINGTON — Two illegal aliens released from the federal detention facility in Aurora this year had been convicted of assault. Two more had been convicted of identity theft and another two of drunken driving.
The figures from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security represent the first time the federal agency has released a breakdown of the offenses those detained and released subsequently at the Aurora facility this year were convicted of.
In March, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said his agency released 2,228 illegal aliens from detention facilities around the country from February 9 to March 1 due to sequestration.
At the request of TCO, an ICE spokesperson revealed that 34 of the released detainees came from the facility in Aurora, Colorado.
After an additional request, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok revealed that 14 of the detainees had been convicted of criminal offenses. Those offenses included trespassing, disorderly conduct, drug possession, public order crime, and harassment.
Rusnok did not release a breakdown of the nationalities of those released from the Aurora detention facility or provide a number of those who appeared in court for their deportation hearing. But two recent federal reports provide a clue.
A 2011 Government Accountability Office report found that two-thirds of detainees in federal prison and state prison systems came from Mexico, while 5 to 9 percent came from Central America.
A 2003 Department of Justice Inspector General report found that only 13 percent of undocumented aliens released from detention facilities were deported.
“The Immigration and Naturalization Service continues to be largely unsuccessful at removing aliens who are not detained,” the authors of the report concluded.
The release of the figures comes as Congress debates a rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws. House Republican leadership scheduled a conference call with rank-and-file members Thursday to discuss immigration as well as budgetary issues, according to Politico.
As the U.S. Senate debated an immigration overhaul bill in June, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) argued that the legislation would jump-start the economy, as the legalization of 11 million illegal immigrants would help reduce the deficit.
A Congressional Budget Office Report in July suggested that if the Senate bill became law, the federal budget deficit would fall $158 billion from next fiscal year to 2023.
“There have been opponents that have come out and said, ‘this bill will cost us money. This bill will make the deficit worse.’ It’s exactly the opposite. This bill is a deficit reduction bill,” Bennet said on the Senate floor in late June.
Bennet and fellow supporters of the Senate bill did not mention the less flattering findings contained in the CBO report, however. The study also concluded that wages would fall over the next ten years if the bill became law, with the steepest decline hitting the lowest earning workers.
“Some people win, some people lose,” Dr. George Borjas, a labor economist at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said of the effect immigration has on labor markets.
Borjas could have been speaking as well of the effect it has on the criminal justice system.
The 2011 GAO also report found that managing illegal aliens in federal prisons cost taxpayers $1.5 billion-$1.6 billion a year from 2005 to 2009. It noted that 55,000 illegal aliens were in federal prisons in 2010, an increase of seven percent in 2005.
The Senate passed a far-reaching immigration bill in June. The House is expected to consider its own version of the legislation when Congress returns from the August recess September 9.